Minneapolis protesters, police clash amid rage over killing of unarmed black man
Demonstrators clashed with police, looted stores and set fires as a man was fatally shot during a second night of protests in the US city of Minneapolis on Wednesday over the killing of a black man by a police officer.
Police fired tear gas and formed a human barricade to keep protesters from climbing a fence surrounding the Third Precinct, where the officers accused of killing George Floyd worked before they were fired on Tuesday.
They pushed protesters back as the crowd grew, a day after firing rubber bullets and more tear gas on thousands of demonstrators angered by the latest death of an African-American at the hands of US law enforcement.
Minnesota state Governor Tim Walz urged people to leave the area around the precinct where several fires were burning, warning of the “extremely dangerous situation” in a tweet late on Wednesday.
Outrage has grown across the country at Floyd’s death on Monday, fueled in part by bystander cellphone video which shows him, handcuffed and in the custody of four white police officers, on the ground while one presses his knee into the victim’s neck.
President Donald Trump in a tweet called Floyd’s death “sad and tragic,” and all four officers have been fired, as prosecutors said they had called in the FBI to help investigate the case.
Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo cautioned protestors on Wednesday to remain peaceful.
But by 10pm an auto parts store across from the precinct had been set alight and a nearby target was being looted. Police continued to hold the crowds back from scaling a fence into the precinct’s parking lot, where their cruisers contain guns.
As the violence escalated, with more businesses looted, a man was shot near the protests and later died, police said. A person has been arrested.
Protesters remained peaceful at two other locations in the city.
At the place where Floyd was first taken into custody, people chanted and carried placards and bouquets were set out as tributes to Floyd.
Calls for justice came from around the country.
“I would like those officers to be charged with murder, because that’s exactly what they did,” Bridgett Floyd, the victim’s sister, said on NBC television.
“They murdered my brother ... They should be in jail for murder.”
Protesters marched on downtown Los Angeles and briefly blocked the 101 Freeway.
Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said he could not understand why the officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck until the 46-year-old restaurant worker went limp has not been arrested.
“Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail? If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now,” Frey said.
The case was seen as the latest example of police brutality against African Americans, which gave rise six years ago to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Floyd had been detained on a minor charge of allegedly using a counterfeit US$20 bill to make a purchase at a convenience store.
In the video, policemen hold him to the ground while one presses his knee to Floyd’s neck.
“Your knee in my neck. I can’t breathe ... Mama, Mama,” Floyd pleaded. He grew silent and motionless, unable to move even as the officers told him to “get up and get in the car.”
He was later declared dead at a local hospital.