Minneapolis – In the wake of the tragic death of a Minneapolis man George Floyd who died as a result of police applying lethal pressure during an arrest, thousands took to the streets in protest. After the initial protests deteriorated into rioting, acts of arson and looting took place throughout the city. Later, police from Minneapolis’s 3rd Precinct where the officers who killed Floyd had been stationed before their termination earlier in the week, were confronted by demonstrators.
Barricades were erected and police assembled in riot gear, using rubber bullets and tear gas in an effort to disperse the crowd. The volatile situation was tense throughout the day on Thursday and into the early hours of Friday morning when demonstrators finally breached the police line and set fire to the 3rd precinct.
Although Minnesota National Guard troops had been deployed several hours earlier, there was no guard presence at the time of the fire and police had been ordered to evacuate the area in an effort to prevent the situation from becoming deadly.
As the 3rd precinct burned, the report of gunfire could be heard echoing through the streets mixed with the sound of fireworks igniting. Meanwhile, firefighters were over whelmed with more than 30 arson fires and, after an initial attempt to extinguish the blaze at the 3rd precinct, were forced to withdraw due to the danger at the scene.
The inferno was streamed live by several national news networks prompting a Tweet from President Donald Trump that placed blame for the situation on the Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, who Trump called “a very weak Radical Left Mayor…” In a subsequent Twitter post, Trump said he was willing to use the military to take control of the crisis in Minneapolis and suggested that they would begin shooting those deemed to be “looters.”
Later, Minnesota State Police and National Guard units arrived to restore order, but no casualties have been reported. By the early hours of the morning, many demonstrators had been disbursed. In spite of the relative calm, tensions were high.
Shortly after 3 am, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and a small crew broadcast live from the scene where they were suddenly surrounded by riot police wearing masks and were arrested, in spite of asking repeatedly how they could comply with officers. The riot police, backed by troops armed with assault rifles waiting nearby, did not respond and removed the crew from the street, releasing them several hours later.