It’s past 10: 30 at night in Minneapolis, but the protests show no sign of slowing — if anything, they appear to be ratcheting up in intensity, with protesters setting a police precinct on fire.
Police had set up a fence around the precinct earlier, but it has since been pushed over and thousands of protesters are crowding around the precinct, climbing up the building and lighting its exterior on fire.
“The precinct is on fire. We don’t know where the police are,” said CNN National Correspondent Sara Sidner. “The fire alarm is going on inside … People are cheering and more fireworks are going off as the police precinct is burning.”
There is no sound of a siren in the background, and no sign of firefighters arriving — a stark contrast to the protests last night, when multiple fire trucks arrived to put out fires.
“The police have made a calculated decision that they’re not going enforce what we’re seeing behind us,” said CNN Correspondent Josh Campbell, who is also on the scene.
It may be because the police know their presence could further inflame tensions and make the situation escalate, Campbell added. “It’s a dangerous and volatile situation here. I think the police know that.”
Melvin Carter, the mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, told CNN the video of George Floyd’s death was “nauseating” and that protesters’ anger was “understandable.”
“It’s heartbreaking for everybody I know … everybody I know looks at that video and feels like crying or throwing up, and it’s disgusting, it’s unacceptable,” he said.
“The only human response to that video is anger and sadness,” he added.
When asked about the ongoing protests, Carter said, “I think we’re just seeing a generalized rage, and I want to say a rage that’s understandable when we see such a stomach turning video of George Floyd being killed in the way that he was, by people who we’ve paid to protect us.”
“If it was just George Floyd then maybe that would be one thing. But you know, as we all know, we’ve seen video after video…we’ve seen that the people responsible go free. And it seems no one gets held accountable.”
He acknowledged that members of the community were unhappy with the rioting and looting, and described it as “unfortunate and destructive” — but said there was a broader root problem that needed addressing.
“In order to get to the bottom of this we have to understand where the rage is coming from in the first place,” he said.
As evening falls in Minneapolis, protests show few signs of abating.
CNN Correspondent Josh Campbell, on the scene in Minneapolis, described the scene, as crowds continue to grow.
“There was a member of the community yelling at people throwing rocks into windows, saying, ‘Don’t do this in my community.’ Not everybody here behind us is a protester. Some are trying to keep the peace,” he said.
The crowds have been there all afternoon and there seem to be more people out tonight than last night.
Several large fires are still active, including a car that has been set alight, and the air is thick with billowing smoke and tear gas.
Earlier, police put up a fence around the perimeter of the police department, to separate the protesters from the precinct. The fence has since been pushed down by protesters.
There are police on rooftops, throwing tear gas down to the street, said Campbell. Protesters are responding by throwing rocks and glass bottles, setting off firecrackers, and using lasers to point to police officers as it gets dark out.
The House Judiciary Committee has sent a letter to the Department of Justice, calling for an investigation into police violence.
The committee is opening its own oversight and legislative action in response, said the letter.
“America’s history of racism and racially motivated violence is a plague that continues to live on through generations,” said Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
“The federal government has a critical role to play in promoting a culture of accountability for all law enforcement organizations, including at the state and local level. This is why House Judiciary Democrats have sent a letter today to the US Department of Justice to demand action.”
He added that the committee would open its own oversight and legislative action “to address the crisis of racial profiling, excessive force by law enforcement and lost trust between police departments and the communities they serve.”
The letter pointed to a number of recent cases in addition to George Floyd that have attracted nationwide attention — Ahmaud Arbery, who was was killed while jogging near Brunswick, Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was killed after officers forced their way inside her home.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter told CNN he spoke with Minnesota’s governor and requested the National Guard after protests and fires Thursday.
“We have requested the assistance of the National Guard, and so we expect that response to be forthcoming and we expect their assistance to be forthcoming,” Carter said.
Earlier today: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard after protests and demonstrations erupted through the state and city of St. Paul.
George Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country after a video surfaced showing the 46-year-old black man handcuffed and on the ground saying, “I can’t breathe,” as a police officer holds him down with a knee on his neck.
George Floyd’s brother Philonise said black Americans are “tired of seeing the same thing every day” when it comes to how people of color are treated in the US.
“My story will never change. Everybody’s reacting off of pain. Black men dying every day. They’re tired of seeing the same thing every day. Everyone wants justice. Justice for black people, black lives matter,” Philonise Floyd told CNN tonight. “I want justice, and I’m not going to stop until I get the death penalty for those officers.”
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on May 25 after pleading for help as a police officer used his knee on Floyd’s neck to pin him — unarmed and handcuffed — to the ground in Minneapolis. His death sparked outrage and protests across the country, demonstrations that continued today.
Philonise Floyd said he has yet to sleep in four days due to his brother’s death.
“Those officers they’re at home sleeping. Nah, I can’t stand for that. They need to be locked up tonight. I want justice. Arrest those officers so my family and the world can have closure,” Philonise Floyd said.
Columbus, Ohio, Mayor Andrew Ginther tweeted about the protests taking place in Columbus this evening over the death of George Floyd.
“I understand why some residents are angry and taking to the streets. I have said many times that racism exists across the country, state and right here in Columbus. We are committed to addressing racism wherever we see it,” Ginther tweeted.
“I respect peaceful protests and ask residents to remain peaceful in their actions tonight and every night,” the mayor added.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman will need to review all evidence in the George Floyd death, including information that is not favorable to the case to “understand the full picture of what actually happened,” an email from his office said clarifying statements made during the Thursday afternoon news conference.
The email was sent to clarify a statement made by Freeman when he misspoke during the news conference Thursday, his office told CNN over the phone.
Following the news conference, CNN spoke with Freeman who said he wants to understand the entire scene before making a charging decision.
Freeman clarified that he was not saying there is evidence suggesting the officer is not guilty but meant that he wants to ensure that whatever evidence is out there is incontrovertible and chargeable.
A TJ Maxx and Napa Auto Parts Store in St. Paul, Minneapolis, are reportedly on fire as protests continue in the city following the death of George Floyd.
“A Fire has been reported at TJ Maxx on the 1400 block of University Avenue,” the St. Paul Police Department tweeted. “Officers continue to be hit with rocks and bottles thrown by people who are also breaking into buildings, looting and destroying property.”
The police department also tweeted: “A large fire has broken out at the Napa Auto Parts Store at 1271 University Avenue West. Please avoid the area.”
In another tweet, the police department wrote: “Please stay away from the Midway area, near Target on University Avenue. We continue to work to disperse the crowds, protect people and protect property. However, our officers continue to be assaulted and the area is not safe.”
This comes after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard after protests and demonstrations erupted through the state and city of St. Paul.
Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country after a video surfaced showing the 46-year-old black man handcuffed and on the ground saying, “I can’t breathe,” as a police officer holds him down with a knee on his neck.