Protests Erupt Across The Country As Minneapolis Police Precinct Burnsby Andrew Solender
Protests erupted in cities across the country on Thursday night and Friday morning in response to the death of George Floyd, with protestors in Minneapolis setting fire to a police precinct and President Trump threatening to send in the military to shoot protestors.
Protestors gathered in several cities including Louisville, Kentucky, Columbus, Ohio, Minneapolis and Phoenix, demanding the arrest of the four officers allegedly involved in the death of George Floyd after Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to charge them right away.
Protests in Minneapolis were particularly potent, with demonstrators clashing with police and setting off fireworks earlier in the evening before breaking in and setting fire to the Third Precinct and the post office after officers retreated around 10:00 p.m.
The City of Minneapolis warned protestors at midnight to retreat from the Third Precinct, based on unconfirmed reports that gas lines had been cut and explosives had been placed in the building.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced at a press conference Friday morning that he decided to evacuate the Third Precinct because “the symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life” and “brick and mortar is not as important as life.”
Frey denounced the looting as “unacceptable,” and said, “Our communities cannot and will not tolerate it. These are businesses, these are community institutions that we need."
Protestors in Columbus smashed bank windows and stormed the state capitol; a police precinct in Phoenix was pelted with rocks; and a shooting broke out at a protest in Louisville, resulting in at least seven people being shot.
President Trump weighed in on the Minneapolis protests early Friday morning, criticizing Mayor Jacob Frey as a “very weak radical left mayor” and threatening to send in the military if Frey didn’t “get his act together.”
Trump also lashed out at the protestors, tweeting “these THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd,” and threatening to “assume control” by shooting them, quoting a 1960s segregationist Southern sheriff: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Video surfaced on Wednesday of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he implored, “I can’t breathe,” on Monday. The four officers involved were swiftly fired, but the incident set off a wave of unrest in Minneapolis. Protestors decrying police brutality and demanding the prosecution of the officers were met with tear gas later that day. Protests broke out in New York on Thursday afternoon and devolved into violence between police and demonstrators, leading to the arrests of several protestors.
"This is one of the most difficult situations that our city has been through. I'm not going to stand up here and tell you that there are easy answers to it because there are not,” Frey said at the press conference.
Trump’s tweet about shooting protestors was partially hidden by Twitter TWTR , who said it “violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.” Nonetheless, they chose to keep the tweet accessible because “it may be in the public’s interest.”
“Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at someone else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis,” Frey said of Trump’s comments. Critics online also compared Trump’s harsh appraisal of the Minneapolis protestors to his considerably softer words regarding armed antilockdown protestors who stormed the Michigan State Capitol earlier this month.