George Floyd protesters rock Minneapolis for third nightby Don Jacobson
May 29 (UPI) -- Protests over the police-involved death of George Floyd continued well into the morning Friday after a third night of violence in Minneapolis, while similar disturbances broke out in Louisville and other parts of the country.
Late Thursday, demonstrators set fire to a police precinct building in the Minneapolis neighborhood where Floyd died Monday after he was restrained by a Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck.
Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a grocery store.
The precinct building had been evacuated by order of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who said he was unwilling to endanger lives to protect the building.
"I understand the importance of a precinct," he said. "[But] the symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers, or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone and we will continue to patrol the third precinct entirely."
At 4:30 a.m. Friday, protesters and looters still were out on the streets in the neighborhood as several nearby commercial buildings burned unchecked.
Firefighters arrived shortly afterward, accompanied by state police in riot gear, who began to arrest people in the area, including a CNN reporter and crew members.
CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and three crew members were taken into custody live on the air. The news organization immediately criticized the arrests and called for their release.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said later in the morning he "took full responsibility" for incident while issuing a "very public apology" to CNN.
"There is no reason something like this should happen," he said.
The unrest also spread to neighboring St. Paul, where protesters looted a Target store and set fire to several businesses along a busy commercial corridor.
Earlier in the night, National Guard troops were deployed in the two cities at Walz's order.
The governor said he issued the order at the request of local leaders who called on the state government for National Guard resources after "extensive damage to private property" occurred during the protests.
At a press conference early Friday, Frey responded to President Donald Trump, who tweeted about the Minnesota protests. In the post, he called Frey "a very weak radical left mayor" and said, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
Twitter flagged Trump's tweet as violating its rules and "glorifying violence."
"Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions," Frey told reporters.
"Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else, during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell. Is this a difficult time period? Yes. But you better be damn sure that we're going to get through this."
Minneapolis City Council member Andrea Jenkins told MSNBC that Floyd and Derek Chauvin, the officer filmed kneeling on his neck, worked together as security guards at the same Minneapolis restaurant for 17 years.
"Officer Chauvin, he knew George for a very long time," Jenkins said.
The protesters' main demand is that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman bring criminal charges against Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd's death. All have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, but Freeman had not criminally charged them by mid-day Friday.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, however, said he felt confident the former officers would indeed be charged.
"I have every expectation that they will be," Ellison told CNN. "I hope there are [charges] soon, but that is prerogative of another prosecuting authority. They are trying to be careful. They are trying to make sure their case is strong and airtight."
But, he said, "that is taking more time than any of us want."
Racially charged unrest over Floyd's death and similar police brutality cases spread across the United States late Thursday. Protests occurred from coast to coast.
In Louisville, Ky., seven people were shot during a protest over the shooting death of local resident Breonna Taylor during a March police raid.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in an early morning video message the shootings came from within the crowd. Five of those wounded were not seriously hurt, while two were sent into surgery and one was in critical condition.
"No officers fired their weapons," he said, thanking them for directing aid to the injured demonstrators "despite the risk to themselves."
The shots were fired around 11:30 p.m. as protesters gathered near the Louis D. Brandeis Hall of Justice. They were attempting to overturn a police prison transport vehicle before in the moments before the gunfire, video showed.
In New York City, more than 70 people were arrested Thursday night as protesters broke COVID-19 lockdown rules to protest George Floyd's death.
Five were charged with felonies for assaulting police officers -- three of whom were injured in the melee --NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said, adding police will be ready for more protests Friday and over the weekend.
"There will be a very large police presence there," he said. "We expect that these will be peaceful, that people will express their outrage on the incident that happened in Minnesota, and rightly so.
"But we'll be out there to make sure we keep the peace. And if there are any agitators within the group, if we need to make that arrest, we'll single that individual out, we'll take him and allow the other peaceful protesters to go on."
In Columbus, Ohio, protests over Floyd's death turned violent when some demonstrators began to throw objects at police. Officers responded by firing tear gas.
Protesters later broke windows at the Ohio Statehouse and entered the building. Police tactical squads quickly responded.
Widespread vandalism and property damage was reported in the city.
As the weekend approached with the likelihood of more protests, the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis announced it has delayed a planned partial reopening.
"Out of an abundance of caution, given the significant unrest in the community, Mall of America has decided to postpone its planned June 1 reopening of retail stores," Mall officials said in a website post, adding that curbside pick-up had also been suspended.
"Our top priority is the safety of our tenants, their employees, and our team members; and restricting access to the building will allow us to do that," they told NBC News. "By delaying our reopening date, it will give Mall retailers additional time to prepare."