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Minneapolis bracing for more violence over George Floyd death

A firefighter descends a ladder as a building smolders Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis, after a night of rioting and looting as protests continue over the death of George Floyd. AP photo

Protest announced for Thursday evening near downtown county offices.

Posted: May 28, 2020 4:24 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A wounded Minneapolis braced for more violence Thursday, a day after rioting over the death of a handcuffed black man in police custody reduced parts of one neighborhood to a smoking shambles, with burned buildings, looted stores and angry graffiti demanding justice.

The unrest ravaged several blocks in that neighborhood, with scattered rioting reaching for miles across the city. After two consecutive nights of violent protests following the death of George Floyd, Mayor Jacob Frey urged the governor to activate the National Guard. Another protest was announced for Thursday evening near county offices downtown.

Some stores planned to close early, fearing more strife. The city shut down its light-rail system and planned to stop all bus service “out of concern for the safety of riders and employees," a statement said.

Fears deepened after a destructive night focused on the death of Floyd, who was seen on video gasping for breath during an arrest on Monday in which an officer kneeled on his neck for almost eight minutes. In the footage recorded by a bystander, Floyd can be heard pleading that he can’t breathe until he slowly stops talking and moving.

By Thursday morning, smoke rose from smoldering buildings in the city’s Longfellow neighborhood, scene of the worst violence. In a strip mall across the street from the police's 3rd Precinct station, the focus of the previous night's protests, the windows in nearly every business had been smashed, from the large Target department store at one end to the Planet Fitness gym at the other. Only the 24-hour laundromat appeared to have escaped unscathed.

“WHY US?” demanded a large expanse of red graffiti scrawled on the wall of the Target. A Wendy’s restaurant across the street was charred almost beyond recognition.

“We’re burning our own neighborhood,” said a distraught Deona Brown, a 24-year-old woman standing with a friend outside the precinct station, where a small group of protesters were shouting at a dozen or so stone-faced police officers in riot gear. “This is where we live, where we shop, and they destroyed it.”

“What that cop did was wrong, but I’m scared now,” Brown said.

But others in the crowd saw something different in the wreckage.

Protesters destroyed property "because the system is broken,” said a young man who identified himself only by his nickname, Cash, and who said he had been in the streets during the violence. He dismissed the idea that the destruction would hurt residents of the largely black neighborhood.

“They’re making money off of us,” he said angrily of the owners of the destroyed stores. He laughed when asked if he had joined in the looting or violence: “I didn’t break anything.”

The protests that began Wednesday night and extended into Thursday were more violent than Tuesday's, which included skirmishes between offices and protesters but no widespread property damage or looting.

Mayor Jacob Frey appealed for calm. “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” he said on Twitter.

Protests also spread to other U.S. cities. In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers. Memphis police blocked a main thoroughfare after a racially mixed group of protesters gathered outside a police precinct. The situation intensified later in the night, with police donning riot gear and protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of officers stationed behind a barricade.

Amid the violence in Minneapolis, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop, possibly by the owner, authorities said.

Fire crews responded to about 30 intentionally set blazes during the protests, including at least 16 structure fires, and multiple fire trucks were damaged by rocks and other projectiles, the fire department said. No one was hurt by the blazes.

There was no sign of police at the destroyed shopping center, though a couple dozen were outside the precinct house. One man standing outside the building was using a bullhorn to shout. “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. Mama, I can’t breathe,” repeating some of Floyd’s pleas for relief.

Across from the precinct, someone had spray-painted the sidewalk in red: “Where’s humanity?”

The 46-year-old Floyd died as police arrested him outside a convenience store after a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said Thursday they were conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into the death and making the case a priority. The announcement came a day after President Donald Trump tweeted that he had asked an investigation to be expedited.

The FBI is also investigating, with a probe focused on whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.

The officer who kneeled on Floyd and three others were fired Tuesday. The next day, the mayor called for him to be criminally charged.

Frey appealed to Gov. Tim Walz to activate the National Guard, a spokesman confirmed Thursday. The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Walz tweeted for calm Wednesday night, calling the violence “an extremely dangerous situation” and urging people to leave the scene.

The last time the Minnesota National Guard was called out to deal with civil unrest was in a backup role during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. The most comparable situation to the current disturbances happened when the Guard was called up to deal with the riots in Minneapolis in 1967, a summer when anger over racial inequalities came to a boil in many cities across the country.

The Minnesota National Guard was also called out during protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s and during a 1986 strike by Hormel meatpackers in Austin.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604687

Reported Deaths: 7643
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1250161780
Ramsey52519898
Dakota46852471
Anoka42789458
Washington27436291
Stearns22561225
St. Louis18146313
Scott17553137
Wright16383149
Olmsted13406102
Sherburne1202795
Carver1067448
Clay826592
Rice8204110
Blue Earth762744
Crow Wing681895
Kandiyohi668185
Chisago620152
Otter Tail586284
Benton582998
Goodhue484074
Douglas475781
Mower470533
Winona461451
Itasca460163
Isanti440364
McLeod430961
Morrison424962
Beltrami407962
Nobles407750
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347133
Pine334923
Nicollet331345
Mille Lacs311854
Brown308040
Le Sueur297326
Cass286332
Todd285633
Meeker263543
Waseca238023
Martin235333
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182846
Redwood176539
Houston174616
Cottonwood167124
Wadena163423
Fillmore157610
Faribault155219
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122812
Pipestone116726
Yellow Medicine115020
Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95518
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48393
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371226

Reported Deaths: 6056
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58274641
Linn21241339
Scott20311248
Black Hawk16180312
Woodbury15241230
Johnson1462285
Dubuque13515211
Dallas1129499
Pottawattamie11233174
Story1072048
Warren583891
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554196
Sioux517674
Webster516094
Muscatine4884106
Marshall487176
Des Moines467672
Wapello4337122
Buena Vista427040
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382556
Marion366176
Jones301057
Henry294537
Bremer288761
Carroll287252
Boone268534
Crawford268340
Benton260355
Washington257551
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232751
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212271
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198935
Page194522
Buchanan194133
Cedar192323
Hardin187544
Fayette186943
Wright186140
Hamilton182051
Harrison179973
Clayton171157
Butler166535
Madison164519
Mills163924
Floyd163542
Cherokee159338
Lyon158941
Poweshiek157136
Allamakee152852
Hancock150334
Iowa149724
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138813
Grundy137433
Emmet135841
Jefferson133335
Shelby131637
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129849
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126743
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113523
Howard105022
Montgomery103638
Clarke101124
Keokuk96832
Monroe96431
Unassigned9550
Ida91635
Adair87432
Pocahontas85822
Davis85325
Monona83431
Osceola78917
Greene78011
Lucas77923
Worth7628
Taylor66812
Fremont6279
Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
Van Buren56418
Wayne54423
Audubon53411
Adams3444
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