Protests erupt again in Minneapolis following death of George Floyd


MINNEAPOLIS — A second day of protests, unrest and looting Thursday in the wake of the death of George Floyd shut down mass transit in the Twin Cities as lawmakers pleaded for peace.

Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Thursday activating the Minnesota National Guard. A statement from the governor's office said the order was needed after "extensive damage to private property occurred and peaceful protests evolved into a dangerous situation for protesters and first responders."

Looters on Thursday broke into a Target on University Avenue in St. Paul before police arrived, sending the raiders scrambling.

But as police circled the store and faced off with an angry crowd, looters broke into a T.J. Maxx close by and made off with whatever they could carry. That store was later reported to be on fire.

"Officers continue to be hit with rocks and bottles thrown by people who are also breaking into buildings, looting and destroying property," St. Paul police said on Twitter.

An unoccupied St. Paul police cruiser in the area also appeared to have been vandalized.

"Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest," St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said in a statement late Thursday afternoon.

"Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement, and on preventing this from ever happening again. We can all be in that fight together."

In South Minneapolis protesters gathered near the police department's 3rd Precinct. Rocks were thrown at officers, who deployed tear gas as they moved through a crowd to get to a stabbing victim, said witness and City Council candidate A.J. Awed.

Police were later seen using a cart to roll a few civilians out of the area.

Metro Transit, which operates light rail and buses in Minneapolis and St. Paul, announced it'd be shutting down almost all services at 4 p.m. CDT for the rest of Thursday.

An airport shuttle and its Northstar commuter line were all that remained operational.

"Out of concern for the safety of riders and employees, Metro Transit bus and light rail service will be suspended," the transit agency announced at about 2:30 p.m.

Rosedale Center, a mall in nearby Roseville, said in Twitter it was asked by authorities to shut down.

Hours earlier, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo all pleaded for calm.

“We must restore the peace so we can do this hard work together," Frey said.

Jenkins said protesters should be angry about Floyd's death in police custody, but they have no right to "perpetrate violence and harm on the very communities that you say you are standing up for."

"We need peace and calm in our streets, and I am begging you for that calm," she added.

National Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes said Thursday that authorities must ensure justice is served in Floyd's death, "whatever the consequences."

"The fact that he was a suspect in custody is immaterial — police officers should at all times render aid to those who need it," Yoes said. "Police officers need to treat all of our citizens with respect and understanding and should be held to the very highest standards for their conduct."

Local and federal authorities spoke at a joint press conference on Thursday, which was delayed for two hours after reports of charges possibly being announced, but no such announcement came.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, along with Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, offered no significant updates other that to promise a swift and thorough investigation of the officers involved in the Floyd case.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Erica MacDonald said it was imperative the community understood how seriously the department was taking the investigation for Floyd's death.

“It breaks my heart to see what is happening in our streets in Minneapolis and St. Paul and in some of our suburbs,” MacDonald said. “And I am pleading, I am pleading with individuals to stay calm and to let us conduct this investigation.”

Originally published