George Floyd: Police department building goes up in flames during third night of protests


A police station in Minneapolis has been set on fire after protesters calling for justice for George Floyd set off fireworks, according to reports.

Dramatic images show the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct surrounded by flames on Thursday night, local time.

The station's windows were broken and protesters climbed over fences as officers retreated having fired projectiles, reports the New York Times.

Images later showed officers abandoning the department as rioters celebrated, posing for pictures in front of the flames.
Protesters gather outside the burning police station (Image: REUTERS)

Alarms blared as protesters continued to chant, according to reports.

“This is 400 years of anger,” one protester, Justin Galbraith, told The Daily Beast.

“There are so many innocent lives lost by the police. We protest peacefully and there is no accountability. So this happens,” demonstrator Cecilia Zwak said.
Rioters were seen cheering as the building went up in flames (Image: REUTERS)
Fireworks had reportedly been set off, which started the fire (Image: REUTERS)

It comes as Minnesota's governor Tim Walz activated the National Guard to help police restore order against protests - now into their third night - over the death of unarmed black man Mr Floyd.

Graphic video footage shows the 46-year-old gasping for breath as white officer Derek Chauvin kneels on his neck for several minutes before he loses consciousness.

Mr Walz ordered Guard troops to assist police as local, state and federal law enforcement officials sought to ease racial tensions sparked by Monday night's fatal arrest by vowing to achieve justice in the case.
Officers were seen abandoning the station (Image: TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Protests have continued to grow increasingly more violent (Image: TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Four city police officers involved in the incident, including Chauvin, were fired from their jobs the next day.

The Floyd case is reminiscent of the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York City who died after being put in a banned police chokehold as he, too, was heard to mutter, "I can't breathe."

His dying words became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement that formed amid a wave of killings of African-Americans by police.
The station was set alight on Thursday night (Image: TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
Demonstrators continued to chant and hold signs (Image: TANNEN MAURY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Protesters thronged Minneapolis streets for a third day on Thursday chanting "I can't breathe," as they rallied peacefully at the Hennepin County Government Center and marched through downtown, demanding the four officers be swiftly arrested.

"There is probable cause right now" to make those arrests, civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said as he addressed the crowd.

"We're not asking for a favor. We're asking for what is right."

Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, said Floyd's case had renewed the trauma she suffered six years ago.

"This is just opening up an old wound, and pouring salt into it," she said.
Protesters gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center (Image: REUTERS)

Separately, hundreds of demonstrators milled around the police station and Target discount store that were the centre of running clashes Wednesday night between rock-throwing protesters and riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

A car in the Target car park was set ablaze, and looters periodically ducked inside the vacant Target store to make off with whatever was left inside.

Both gatherings began with little police presence and no immediate sign of National Guard troops.
A protester spays graffiti on a police car (Image: CRAIG LASSIG/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

At a morning news briefing, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo apologized to Floyd's family, conceding his department had contributed to a "deficit of hope" in Minnesota's largest city.

Hours later, officials overseeing investigations from the U.S. Justice Department, FBI, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and local prosecutors appealed for calm at a joint news conference, as they gathered evidence.

"Give us the time to do this right, and we will bring you justice," County Attorney Mike Freeman told reporters.
Calls are mounting for the officers involved in George Floyd's death to be charged (Image: REUTERS)

He acknowledged the policeman's conduct depicted in the video was "horrible," but said, "My job is to prove that he has violated a criminal statute."

Minnesota's U.S. attorney, Erica McDonald, pledged a "robust and meticulous investigation into the circumstances surrounding" Floyd's arrest and death.

The federal investigation, which Attorney General William Barr had designated a "top priority," will focus on whether the arresting officers used the "color of law" to deprive Floyd of his civil rights, a crime under U.S. law, she said.
George Floyd died after being restrained by police (Image: Internet Unknown)

Floyd, a Houston native known affectionately to friends as "Big Floyd" and who had worked as a nightclub security staffer, was reportedly suspected of trying to pass counterfeit money when police took him into custody.

Wednesday's disturbances, punctuated by looting, vandalism and arson, began hours after Mayor Jacob Frey urged local prosecutors to file criminal charges in the case.

Most protesters had been peaceful, while a smaller, core contingent engaged in unruly behavior, the police chief said.
(Image: Facebook/Darnella Frazier/AFP vi)

Sympathy protests erupted on Wednesday in Los Angeles and Thursday in Denver, with hundreds of demonstrators blocking freeway traffic in both cities.

In a sign the Floyd case had garnered international attention, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged U.S. authorities on Thursday to deal with "entrenched and pervasive racial discrimination" in America's criminal justice system.

The city named the four officers involved in the encounter as Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng.

Chauvin's attorney, Tom Kelly, declined comment in an email to Reuters.

Police department records posted online show 18 internal affairs complaints filed against Chauvin, 16 of which were closed without discipline.

The veteran officer allegedly tried to kill another black man, Ira Latrell Toles, during a domestic violence call in 2008.