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George Floyd protests erupt across nation: Police clear streets after fires in Minneapolis; violence in Columbus, Louisville

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United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald held a press conference along with police and FBI on their investigation into the death of George Floyd.

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MINNEAPOLIS – After a police precinct was torched late Thursday, residents awoke to smoke billowing, fires burning and police lining their streets after another intense night of protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody this week after a white officer pinned him with his knee.

Police largely let protesters light fires and loot buildings into the early hours Friday before advancing through the area and creating a perimeter around the burnt precinct. During the clearing of the streets, a CNN reporter and crew were arrested but later released.

Amid the escalating violence, President Donald Trump criticized the city’s mayor, called protesters “thugs” and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter later put a public interest notice on that tweet saying it violated rules about “glorifying violence.”

Earlier in the deeply shaken city, thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched through the streets calling for justice.

There were also protests and rallies across the country – including New York City, Chicago and Denver. In Louisville, Kentucky, a protest to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Louisville ER tech shot and killed by police in March, turned violent. Seven people were shot.

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Here’s what we know Friday:

Minneapolis wakes up to burnt buildings, streets heavy with police

Multiple fires were burning across Minneapolis on Friday morning as armed National Guard members and police blocked intersections in the epicenter of the protest zone. A small army of heavily armored Minneapolis State Patrol troopers took back control of the Third Precinct area overnight, after protesters and rioters overran the police substation and set it ablaze. 

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The Minneapolis Fire Department, protected by at least 100 officers, fought to contain a fire at the MIGIZI Native American youth center, doors away from a liquor store that was burned to its framing overnight.

National Guard armored vehicles were patrolling the streets. Minneapolis State Patrol said in a tweet that it had arrested four people early Friday while clearing the streets.

The Minneapolis Police Department said Friday that the areas within three blocks around its Third Precinct building would be closed until further notice “for public safety reasons.”

“It’s just so frustrating to watch things burn. It’s such a feeling of helplessness,” said Andrew Papacosta, 61, who lives in an apartment adjacent to the burned-out liquor store.

Papacosta said he and his neighbors protected their building for the two previous nights but fled the area Thursday when it became too obviously unsafe. 

“We just knew that once the sun went down … it’s tough because there’s this feeling of dread. I haven’t slept in three days,” he said. “I totally applaud the protesters protesting the death of George Floyd. But I also live in this community and it’s so sad to see the peaceful protests transform overnight into mayhem.”

Minnesota AG: ‘I anticipate there will be charges’

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said on CNN Friday morning that he anticipates there will be charges brought against the officers involved in Floyd’s death. His office does not directly handle the charges; Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman is handling any potential prosecution.

Ellison said Freeman’s office may not have filed any charges yet in order “to make sure they have a case that sticks.” He cited the deaths of Freddie Gray and Philando Castile, both black men killed by police elsewhere in the U.S., and the fact that the officers involved in their killings were acquitted or had charged dropped.

“I believe that everyone wants to see these charges filed as soon as they can be,” Ellison said.

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CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and crew released after being arrested

A CNN reporter and crew were arrested early Friday as state police advanced down a street near the 3rd Precinct.

Correspondent Omar Jimenez was reporting live on “New Day” when police advanced toward him and his crew. Jimenez told police that he was a reporter, showed his credentials and asked where they would like him and the crew to stand so they could continue reporting and be out of their way.

“Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way,” Jimenez said. “Wherever you want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection.”

A response by police could not be heard as Jimenez explained the scene. An officer then told Jimenez he was under arrest. Jimenez asked why he was under arrest, but was taken from the scene. The rest of the crew was then arrested as the live shot continued with the camera on the ground.

CNN said later Friday that Jimenez had been released and that Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologized for his arrest.

“There was a moment, minutes after it happened where things started to sink in a little bit,” Jimenez said on CNN after his release. “I was just as confused as you.”

“They eventually came back with our belongings … unclipped our handcuffs and that is when we were led out,” he said, adding, “There was no, ‘Sorry, this is a big misunderstanding.'”

George Floyd video adds to trauma: ‘When is the last time you saw a white person killed online?’

Overnight: Fires, protesters overtake 3rd precinct 

Hours after hundreds of protesters flooded Minneapolis streets – shouting “I can’t breathe” and “no justice, no peace; prosecute the police” – a group of demonstrators overran MPD’s Third Precinct, setting “several fires” and forcing officers to evacuate “in the interest of the safety,” according to a police statement.

Protesters celebrated – cheering, honking car horns and setting off fireworks – as fires scorched at the precinct. For hours, police ceded the area to the protesters as windows were smashed, fires lit and buildings looted.

Protesters could be seen setting fire to a Minneapolis Police Department jacket, according to the Associated Press.

Video from Minnesota Public Radio reporter Max Nesterak shared on Twitter showed large crowds around the precinct with rubble and debris thrown about. Nesterak tweeted that Postal Service vehicles were being hijacked.

In nearby St. Paul, more than 170 businesses were damaged or looted after dozens of fires were set, the city’s police department said. No serious injuries were reported.

Protest erupt in Louisville with 7 shot

At least seven people were shot during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky, over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her apartment while sleeping.

Gunfire erupted after hundreds of protesters took to the streets demanding justice for Taylor – one of several deaths of unarmed African Americans drawing national attention in recent weeks.

It began as a peaceful demonstration with several hundred people marching through downtown, chanting Taylor’s name and calling for the officers involved in her death to face charges. But as the sun set, tensions rose. Police in riot gear clashed with hundreds of protesters outside of Louisville Metro Hall, officers releasing clouds of tear gas and firing a barrage of rubber bullets at the crowd.

By the end of the evening, dozens of vehicles and buildings had sustained property damage. Crowds shook a police prisoner transport van, nearly toppling it.

– Mandy McLaren, Darcy Costello, Cameron Teague Robinson, Bailey Loosemore and Sarah Ladd

Breonna Taylor shooting: What to know about the FBI, Louisville police investigations

More protests spread around US

Demonstrators gathered across the country Thursday night to demand justice for George Floyd. Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Columbus and Memphis, among other cities, saw crowds convene, chanting “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace.”

In Columbus, Ohio, protesters were met by police with pepper spray as the crowd broke windows and looted buildings

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In Phoenix, hundreds of peoples rallied around City Hall and then marched through downtown to the state Capitol and back for hours throughout Thursday evening into the early morning hours of Friday. Chants continued through the night with relative calm. Later in the evening, rocks and water bottles were lobbed at police, who fired back with pepper spray and rubber bullets.

New Yorkers massed in Union Square and marched through the streets chanting “I can’t breathe” and waving signs with slogans including “Police brutality and murder must stop.” In Denver, hundreds of demonstrators stood in the downtown streets and chanted as darkness fell outside the Colorado State Capitol, where protesters spray-painted graffiti and broke car windows. Police in riot gear fired gas canisters and used rubber bullets.

– Perry Vandell in Phoenix, Jim Woods in Columbus and The Associated Press

Trump calls Mayor Jacob Frey ‘weak,’ Twitter responds with notice

As the city was erupting, President Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter, calling the city’s mayor “very weak” and saying that “thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd.” 

In a tweet just before 1 a.m. ET, Trump said he couldn’t “stand back & watch this happen to a great American City.”

“A total lack of leadership,” Trump tweeted. “Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”

Twitter later put a public interest notice on that tweet.

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the social media company posted.

Trump’s social media order: Rule means agencies can review whether Twitter, Facebook can be sued for content

National Guard activated

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz earlier Thursday activated the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request. The Guard tweeted minutes after the precinct burned that it had activated more than 500 soldiers across the metro area.

Photos and video on social media showed the National Guard moving through the streets around the precinct early Friday.

More news on the police death of George Floyd

Target closes 24 stores in Minneapolis-St. Paul area ‘until further notice’ 

After multiple videos of looters causing chaos inside a Target store circulated on social media Wednesday night, the Minneapolis-based retailers on Thursday announced closures for 24 of its stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. 

All of the closures are “until further notice,” Target said in a statement. 

“We are heartbroken by the death of George Floyd and the pain it is causing our community,” the company said. “At this time, we have made the decision to close a number of our stores until further notice. Our focus will remain on our team members’ safety and helping our community heal.”

Earlier Thursday, dozens of businesses across the Twin Cities boarded up their windows and doors in an effort to prevent looting.

Minneapolis police at center of George Floyd’s death had a history of complaints

Derek Chauvin, the officer fired for kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and officer Tou Thao, who is seen on the video of Floyd’s arrest standing by, have histories of complaints from the public.

Since December 2012, the officers drew a combined 13 complaints. Minneapolis settled at least one lawsuit against Thao. Since 2006, Chauvin has been reviewed for three shootings. 

They were repeatedly accused of treating victims of crimes with callousness or indifference, failing to file a report when a crime was alleged and, in at least one case, using an unnecessary amount of force in making an arrest.

– Kelley Benham French, Kevin Crowe and Katie Wedell

How did we get here: What happened to George Floyd

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was pinned down by a white police officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck. The incident was recorded on cellphone video that went viral, sparking outrage nationwide.

Floyd died after pleading with officer Derek Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck while police were investigating the use of a counterfeit bill at a corner store. Chauvin and the three others officers involved were fired Tuesday.

– Tyler J. Davis

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Family and friends want to remember George Floyd as a kind, friendly and goofy man. The 46-year-old security guard was killed after an arrest.

USA TODAY

Rev. Jesse Jackson calls for nationwide protests

“The protests must continue, but around the country … protest until something happens,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said in a visit to Minneapolis, where he called for murder charges over Floyd’s death. He said protests should respect social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner who was killed by an NYPD officer, also came to Minneapolis to speak to protesters. 

Protesters should continue to take action until charges are announced, Jackson said. He said black people have been “brutalized without consequence” for decades. 

– Tyler J. Davis

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Rev. Al Sharpton, alongside the mother of Erica Garner, Gwen Carr, addresses a crowd of mourners and activists on the corner where George Floyd died.

USA TODAY

State and federal authorities promise to investigate Floyd’s death

“That video is graphic and horrific and terrible and no person should do that,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a press conference. He said investigators needed time to determine if the video showed a criminal offense: “We have to do this right.”

Investigators took an unusual step in announcing an in-progress federal investigation, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said. She joined Freeman and other officials in offering condolences to Floyd’s family and pleading for peaceful protests.

Calling Floyd’s death a “disturbing” loss of life, MacDonald promised a “a robust and meticulous investigation” and said the Department of Justice is making the case a “top priority.”

Contributing: Associated Press; Jordan Culver, Joel Shannon, Erick Smith, Cara Richardson and Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY.

Read more about George Floyd, the shooting and other news

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