MINNEAPOLIS – Protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd essentially turned into riots Wednesday night as police responded to stores in the city being looted and burned as well as a deadly shooting at a protest location.
Multiple reports indicated that Mayor Jacob Frey reached out to Gov. Tim Walz to deploy the National Guard to the city. The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News seeking comment.
Several news organizations and social media users posted videos that showed burning businesses and looters entering a local Target store and making their way out with bags full of items.
At least one group of armed men was seen outside a strip mall in Minneapolis on Wednesday night amid the looting.
Protests in the city began Tuesday after video emerged of a police officer with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck while the man was lying in the street, in custody. Onlookers pleaded with officers to let the man up. Four officers have subsequently been fired. Now protesters are calling for prosecutions.
The fatal shooting late Wednesday night was connected to looting at a pawn shop, the Star Tribune reported. The store’s owner reportedly fired the shot. Police said one person was in custody.
Protesters threw objects including water bottles and rocks at police and firefighters during a fire that was started at AutoZone. pic.twitter.com/Cxz2syBLSp
— Carlos Gonzalez (@CarlosGphoto) May 28, 2020
Max Nesterak, a reporter for the Minnesota Reformer, interviewed a group of armed men outside a tobacco shop who said they agree with the protests but not the looting. They said police in the city have been overextended and they stopped at the tobacco shop because they were told the business owners were desperate to protect their store.
“These guys are out here with machetes, with shattered windows trying to keep looters out because cops can’t get in here,” one of the armed men said. “So I figured before there were cops, there were Americans. So here we are.”
Another armed man said, “We definitely don’t agree with the looting, but we do agree with the cause and the protest.”
These guys say they support the protests but not the looting. Showed up to help this tobacco store owner stop people from breaking in pic.twitter.com/x2FMQiQwVK
— Max Nesterak (@maxnesterak) May 28, 2020
Some commenters on social media worried that armed citizens could escalate the situation, Fox News reported.
Looting has been recorded at a Target store off East Lake Street and an AutoZone was set on fire near a police precinct.
Smoke is still billowing out the windows of the Autozone near the Minneapolis police Third Precinct. Flash bombs going off on nearby blocks. Demonstrators are still out in south Minneapolis to protest the death of #GeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/lJWgowK1ty
— Ryan Faircloth (@RyanFaircloth) May 28, 2020
Minnesota State Patrol troopers in front of the 3rd precinct in Minneapolis take cover behind some masonry early Thursday morning, shortly after an apparent shooting in the crowded Target parking lot across the street. #GeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/cbFzRtMsin
— Nick Woltman (@nickwoltman) May 28, 2020
Fire crews worked to put out the fire at AutoZone, which is close to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct. Gov. Walz took to Twitter late Wednesday to tell people in the area to leave and called the unfolding situation “extremely dangerous,” FOX 9 Minneapolis reported.
“For everyone’s safety, please leave the area and allow firefighters and paramedics to get to the scene,” he posted. Other stores that were involved in looting included a Cub Foods and a Dollar Tree.
- WHILE PEOPLE TALK ABOUT MINNEAPOLIS, 10 SUSPECTS HAVE OPENED FIRE ON OFFICERS ELSEWHERE WITHOUT MUCH DISCUSSION
Fox News’ Mike Tobin, reporting live from a protest, said he was caught in the crossfire and said he felt pepper spray get into his eyes.
“Some of the flashbangs have been deployed, primarily from the police on the rooftop,” Tobin said at one point, standing with a news camera and microphone between the lines of protesters and police officers.
Floyd, 46, died in police custody and a citizen’s cell phone video showed an officer kneeling on his neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive. Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Police originally responded to a report of a forgery taking place. A man matching Floyd’s description was accused of using a counterfeit bill.
The officer and three others were fired Tuesday. They were identified as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, FOX 9 reported.
On Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey called for Chauvin to be criminally charged. The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have joined the investigation into Floyd’s death.
The situation near Lake Street and Hiawatha in Minneapolis has evolved into an extremely dangerous situation. For everyone's safety, please leave the area and allow firefighters and paramedics to get to the scene.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) May 28, 2020
Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at Chauvin’s suburban home as well as the Minneapolis home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who would make a charging decision in the case. No violence was reported in those protests.
President Trump said he ordered the FBI and Justice Department to investigate the death.
“At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd,” Trump tweeted.