Thousands of people took to the streets of Minneapolis for the second night in a row in protest of George Floyd’s deadly encounter with police officers on Monday (May 25). The rally on Wednesday (May 27) began peacefully but took a violent turn as officers “fired rubber bullets from a rooftop, several buildings caught fire, and one person was shot and killed by a store owner,” The Washington Post reports.
Floyd, 46, died shortly after a white officer pinned the handcuffed father of two to the ground and proceeded to press his knee into the dying man’s back as he pleaded for mercy. “I can’t breathe…please stop,” Floyd could be heard saying to the officer on a video of the incident that quickly went viral and sparked widespread outrage.
Reports The Post:
An evening that started with peaceful protests descended into disarray and looting as the night wore on. A group of officers stood in front of a nearby precinct and tried to disrupt the crowd with flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets. At times, the tear gas was so thick, it wafted down neighborhood streets where people standing in their front yards were coughing and wiping at their eyes.
By 10 p.m., an Auto Zone had caught fire. Soon, other fires erupted, including a massive blaze at a construction site. Meanwhile, one person was shot by a pawn shop owner and died at a hospital, police told the Star Tribune, as looters ransacked a Target, Foot Locker and nearby small businesses.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for peace in a press conference held Thursday (May 28) morning. “We must restore the peace,” he said. He added that Floyd was “all about love and all about peace.” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo spoke at the same press conference and said the riots that have been taking place are a result of the community reacting to their own trauma. He also blamed the police department for adding to that “deficit of hope.”
In a conversation with Minnesota Public Radio, City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison criticized the local police department for failing to keep the public safe during Wednesday’s protest. “We always do this—we create a barrier, put the police out there, put them in a line, put face masks, depersonalize them, make them look as scary as possible and we always get this result, and then we want to point the finger at community members,” he said.
A large rally in Floyd’s name also took place in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening. According to Reuters, the “demonstration turned violent after a crowd marched onto a nearby freeway and blocked traffic, then attacked two California Highway Patrol cruisers, smashing their windows, local media reported.”
As Colorlines previously reported, the Minneapolis Police Department quickly fired the four officers involved in Floyd’s death, but Floyd’s family and critics are calling for criminal charges to be filed against the offending officers. The city named those officers as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng, Reuters reports.