MINNEAPOLIS — Protests over the death of George Floyd dissolved into looting Wednesday night in south Minneapolis as streams of people pulled goods from Target and other shops near the spot where Floyd had been pinned to the ground Monday by a Minneapolis police officer.
Police deployed chemical irritant gas as some protesters threw rocks at the nearby 3rd Precinct police headquarters.
Hoping to avoid a repeat of Tuesday night’s chaos and violence, Gov. Tim Walz weighed in on Twitter, asking people to protest peacefully.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey did the same, telling a CNN interviewer just before 9 p.m., “I’m imploring our city, I’m imploring our community. This is on all of us — our police officers, our community, all of us right now — to keep the peace.”
But the violence boiled over again Wednesday night.
On the scene, MPR News reporter Matt Sepic said looters had cleaned out and badly damaged the nearby Target and then turned to a nearby liquor store and a nearby auto parts store.
Police were shooting marking rounds at some demonstrators, trying to identify some of the people who have been vandalizing the building or throwing objects at police, Sepic added.
The chaos erupted again a day after after four Minneapolis police officers were fired in the wake of a video showing a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee on Floyd's neck Monday night. Handcuffed and face down, Floyd told the officer he couldn't breathe. He later died.
The video sparked waves of outrage here and across the county. Earlier in the day, Frey had called for the officer to be prosecuted as he and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo urged peaceful protests.
By 9:30 p.m., Arradondo told Fox 9 News that while the vast majority of protesters were peaceful, there was looting happening as well as “significant property damage” and the “creation of Molotov cocktails.”
Protests, he said, “cannot be at the cost of others’ personal safety. We cannot have that.”
Minneapolis City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison Wednesday evening said he's disappointed by the police response to protests. In his interview with MPR News, he said the city's strategy for containing violence and protecting the community has failed.
"We always do this — we create a barrier, put the police out there, put them in a line, put face masks, depersonalize them, make them look as scary as possible and we always get this result, and then we want to point the finger at community members,” Ellison said.
Tyrone Terrill, president of the African American Leadership Council, also asked demonstrators earlier in the day to refrain from violence “because destroying property or getting innocent people hurt is not what we want and it takes away from Mr. Floyd."