“We just want the police officer to be held accountable,” one woman said.
Protests erupted across the country on Thursday night in response to the police killing of George Floyd. Earlier this week, four Minneapolis police officers were fired after a video surfaced showing one of them, a white officer, holding the unarmed Black man down on the ground by kneeling on his neck for more than seven minutes.
“Please,” Floyd pleaded with the officer detaining him. “Please. I can’t breathe.” He was pronounced dead shortly afterward at a hospital Monday evening.
For the third night, protesters angry over Floyd’s death took to the streets of Minneapolis. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced earlier in the day they were not yet charging the officer seen in the video, Derek Chauvin. Despite the horrific video of Floyd’s death, Freeman said “there is other evidence that does not support a criminal charge.”
Shortly after 10 p.m., personnel evacuated the 3rd Precinct police headquarters, a police spokesman confirmed late Thursday. Livestream video showed the protesters entering the building, where fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran as blazes were set. At one point, a band playing in a parking lot across from the 3rd Precinct broke into a punk version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.”
Elsewhere in Minneapolis, thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets calling for justice.
Erika Atson, 20, was among thousands of people who gathered outside government offices in downtown Minneapolis, where organizers had called for a peaceful protest. Many protesters wore masks because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there were few attempts at social distancing.
Atson, who is Black, described seeing her 14- and 11-year-old brothers tackled by Minneapolis police years ago because officers mistakenly presumed they had guns. She said she had been at “every single protest” since Floyd’s death and worried about raising children who could be vulnerable in police encounters.
“We don’t want to be here fighting against anyone. We don’t want anyone to be hurt. We don’t want to cause any damages,” she said. “We just want the police officer to be held accountable.”
The group marched for three hours before another confrontation with police broke out, though details were scarce.
Americans gathered in other parts of the country to express their collective outrage over the death of yet another unarmed Black person at the hands of police.
A crowd of around 400 people turned out for a demonstration in Columbus.
The demonstration began as a peaceful protest, but news outlets reported protesters began throwing objects like water bottles at officers, who responded by using tear gas on the crowd. A scuffle between a protester and an officer broke out around 9:45 p.m., WCMH-TV reported.
In Phoenix, protesters who marched from Phoenix City Hall to the state Capitol carried signs reading, “Silence is violence” and “Being black should not be a death sentence,” The Arizona Republic reported.
Around 11 p.m., Phoenix police declared an unlawful assembly around the Capitol building. Protesters refused to leave the area, news outlets reported.
Earlier in the evening, a speaker in front of City Hall talked about the death of Antonio Arce, a 14-year-old boy shot and killed by a Tempe officer, who was not charged in the killing.
“These killings by the police got to stop. It’s not going to stop with George Floyd and it’s not going to stop here. We gotta make it stop,” a speaker said, according to Arizona Republic.
Black Lives Matter Phoenix was not affiliated with the event. In a statement posted on Facebook, the group said the organizer of Thursday’s event “sympathizes with police, and praised Donald Trump when he pardoned Joe Arpaio for racial profiling.”
At least seven people were shot in Louisville as hundreds of protesters converged on City Hall demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was fatally shot in March by police who broke down her door.
Louisville Metro Police said early Friday that at least one person was in critical condition. “No officers discharged their service weapons,” and all seven shot were civilians, police spokesman Sgt. Lamont Washington wrote in an email to the Associated Press.
“I feel the community’s frustration, the anger, the fear, but tonight’s violence and destruction is not the way to solve it,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a video posted to Twitter. He said two of the wounded underwent surgery and five were in good condition.
Hundreds of demonstrators stood in downtown Denver and chanted as darkness fell outside the Colorado State Capitol, where protesters spray-painted graffiti and broke car windows. In other areas of downtown Denver, police in riot gear fired gas canisters, used rubber bullets, and walked in a phalanx through the streets to drive protesters away. The protest briefly spilled over onto Interstate 25, blocking all lanes of traffic until police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
A video posted on Twitter showed a car swerving to hit what appears to be a protester.
“Tonight, the pain and rage brought on by the death of yet another Black man in America at the hands of law enforcement came to a boiling point in Denver,” State Rep. Leslie Herod said in a statement.
How Did President Trump Respond?
He took to Twitter, of course, saying “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
Twitter has censored the president’s tweet for “glorifying violence,” but opted to leave it up because “it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
Additional reporting contributed by the Associated Press.