George Floyd: Minnesota sees second night of clashes over death in custody

Police and protesters have clashed for a second night in the US city of Minneapolis after an unarmed black man died in police custody.

Tear gas was fired by police, while protesters threw rocks and sprayed graffiti. Businesses were also looted.

George Floyd, 46, died on Monday and video showed him gasping for breath as a white policeman knelt on his neck.

Four police officers have been fired, with the mayor saying that being black “should not be a death sentence”.

The renewed clashes on Wednesday came just hours after the city’s mayor called for criminal charges to be brought against the policeman who was filmed holding Mr Floyd.

There was also looting and vandalism, with some buildings close to the demonstrations being destroyed by fire.

The incident echoes the case of Eric Garner, who was placed in a police chokehold in New York in 2014. His death became a rallying call against police brutality and was a driving force in the Black Lives Matter movement.

They began in the afternoon on Tuesday, when hundreds of people came to the intersection where the incident had taken place.

Organisers tried to keep the protest peaceful and maintain coronavirus social distancing, with demonstrators chanting “I can’t breathe” and “It could’ve been me”.

A crowd of hundreds then marched to the 3rd Precinct, where the officers involved in the death are thought to have worked.

One protester told CBS: “It’s real ugly. The police have to understand that this is the climate they have created.”

On a second night of demonstrations on Wednesday, protesters pelted rocks and some threw tear-gas canisters back at the officers.

The crowd grew into the thousands as the evening went on, and there was a standoff outside the police station where officers formed a human barricade to prevent protesters gaining entry.

A nearby supermarket was vandalised, and people were seen fleeing the store with baskets of looted goods. Other businesses were seen in flames and some appeared to have been entirely destroyed.

“Tonight was a different night of protesting than it was just the night before,” a police spokesman told the New York Times.

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey has requested the state national guard’s assistance in the wake of the protests, KARE11 News reported.

He earlier said: “We can have peaceful demonstrations, but I also have to ensure the safety of everyone in the city.”

The incident has also sparked solidarity protests in Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, California, and Memphis, Tennessee.

Mr Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN on Thursday: “I’m never gonna get my brother back. We need justice.”

Speaking through tears, he said the officers who “executed my brother in broad daylight” must be arrested and that he was “tired of seeing black men die”.

“People pleaded for his life. Kids – I know they were out there seeing this. Nobody wants to witness that, nobody should have to witness that.”

He added that he understood why protesters were lashing out.

“I can’t stop people right now because they have pain – they have the same pain that I feel. I want everything to be peaceful, but I can’t make everybody be peaceful.”

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said Mr Floyd’s death was “very sad and tragic”, promising justice.

A number of celebrities and athletes, including John Boyega, LeBron James, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber, have also weighed in, expressing outrage over the incident and condemning racism.

Officers responding to reports of the use of counterfeit money had approached Mr Floyd in his vehicle on Monday.

According to police he was told to step away from the vehicle and physically resisted officers.

A police statement said: “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”

Video taken at the scene does not show how the confrontation started. It shows a white officer using his knee to pin Mr Floyd to the ground by the neck.

Mr Floyd groans “please, I can’t breathe” and “don’t kill me” as bystanders urge officers to let him go.

He ceases to move and an ambulance arrives to take him to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said it was the “right call” to fire the officers.

He said: “Being black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes we watched as a white police officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man. For five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help.”

President Trump said that the FBI and Justice Department are investigating Mr Floyd’s death at his request.


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