A man was shot to death as a second night of protests in the U.S. midwestern city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, over the death of a black man at hands of police turned violent Wednesday.
Police said a suspect in the Wednesday night killing has been apprehended. Authorities said that it is being investigated as a homicide and that they are trying determine what led to the shooting.
Live television footage showed police and firefighters at the scene of an auto parts store that had been set on fire. The footage also showed signs of damage and looting at several other nearby stores.
The fire was located across the street from a police precinct where protesters clashed with police in riot gear the night before. The building and at least one police squad car had been vandalized before police dispersed the crowd by firing tear gas and non-lethal projectiles. Police could be seen surrounding the precinct in the footage but not trying to stop the looting.
Numerous building fires continued to burn early Thursday as fire crews worked to extinguish them.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey appealed for an end to the violence early Thursday and called on the public’s help restore peace. “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” Frey tweeted.
Frey told reporters the violent reaction to Floyd’s death is “the result of so much built-up anger and sadness … that has been ingrained in our black community, not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years” of enslavement and oppression since the first days of colonization in America.
The anger was sparked by Monday’s death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old who died after he was taken into custody on suspicion of forgery. Cellphone video showed a handcuffed Floyd pinned to the ground by a white officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd could be heard desperately pleading for his life, telling the officer “I can’t breathe,” but the officer kept Floyd pinned for several minutes after the victim stopped moving.
He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Demonstrators also gathered without incident Wednesday evening at the suburban home of the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck and at the Minneapolis home of Hennepin County prosecutor Mike Freeman. Freeman will make decisions regarding any charges in the case.
Mayor Frey called on local prosecutors Wednesday to file criminal charges against the officer who restrained Floyd. “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?,” Frey said during a news briefing. “If you had done it or I had done it, we would be behind bars now.”
The officer and three others involved in Floyd’s arrest were all fired Monday after video of the arrest surfaced. The incident is under investigation by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the county where Minneapolis is located, as well as the FBI, which will determine whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.
The Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, said in a statement Thursday its investigation into police involvement in Floyd’s death is a “top priority” and that a team of seasoned team of FBI prosecutors and investigators has been assigned to the case.
Protests against Floyd’s death also erupted on Wednesday in the western state of California, where hundreds of people blocked a Los Angeles freeway and broke windows on California Highway Patrol vehicles.
In the southern city of Memphis, Tennessee, about 70 protestors rallied outside a police station in midtown section of the city Wednesday evening before walking down a main thoroughfare. The situation escalated later with a face-off between police in riot gear positioned behind a barricade and protestors standing side-by-side.
Monday’s death drew comparisons to Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York who died in 2014 after a white officer placed him in a chokehold while he begged for his life. Garner also pleaded with officers that he could not breathe.
Floyd’s death also comes weeks after three people were charged with February’s fatal shooting in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery. He was allegedly killed by a white former Glynn County police officer and his son who apparently mistook Arbery for a burglar while he was jogging. They were charged only after a video of the shooting emerged. The man who shot the video was also charged.
Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, said in a CNN interview Thursday he was “tired of seeing black men die” and urged protestors to maintain peace. He called on police to “start doing your job the right way because I haven't been seeing it."
"I want justice, I just want justice," Philonise Floyd added as he fought to hold back tears.
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he wanted the FBI investigation “to be expedited” and expressed his condolences to Floyd’s family.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive Democratic challenger in this November’s election, said Floyd's death was ``part of an ingrained, systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country.”