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As protests over George Floyd's death swell, looting and flames erupt in south Minneapolis

Thursday May 28, 2020

Mourning, protests over George Floyd's death in police custody/Carlos Gonzalez – Star Tribune

Anger over the death of George Floyd spilled into the streets of Minneapolis for a second night Wednesday, as protesters lobbed rocks and bottles at police and gathered separately outside the homes of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and the fired officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck.

One person was reported killed late Wednesday during the protets, fatally shot in the area. Police had little information about the circumstances of that death.

A large crowd gathered outside Minneapolis’ Third Precinct police headquarters, throwing objects at the building and officers. Police deployed rubber bullets, flash bombs and tear gas to push them back.

Late Wednesday, the AutoZone Auto Parts store across from the Third Precinct was set afire. As some protesters tried to extinguish the fire, others danced gleefully in front of the flames and smoke, snapping selfies.

A video posted to Twitter by user @FindingNovyon showed a paramedic performing CPR on a man lying on the sidewalk as other medics urged protesters to keep their distance and flash-bangs are heard in the background.

“There’s somebody in there with a rifle, back up! Back up!” one of the medics can be seen saying on the video.

Police spokesman John Elder confirmed that someone was shot and killed in the area, although he did not have information about whether the death was realted to the protests. A news conference was expected to take place overnight, he said.

Fired police officer Derek Chauvin and three other officers who were at the scene of Floyd’s death Monday night were associated with the Third Precinct at 3000 Minnehaha Av.

At the nearby Lake Street Target store, looters were seen leaving with items ranging from large TVs to clothing to groceries. Looting also occurred at Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits, at Hiawatha and Lake.

Target spokesman Joshua Thomas released a statement saying the Lake Street Target will be closed until further notice. ““We are heartbroken by the death of George Floyd and the pain it is causing our community,” he said. “We decided to close our Lake Street store earlier today and worked to ensure all of our team members were accounted for and safe. Our focus will remain on our team members’ safety and helping our community heal.”

A smaller, less chaotic protest continued at Chicago Avenue and E. 38th Street, where Floyd died.

Protesters also gathered outside the Minneapolis home of Freeman and the Oakdale residence of Chauvin.

About 50 protesters stood on the boulevard in front of Freeman’s home, chanting and shouting demands for Chauvin, the police officer seen in a bystander’s video with his knee on the neck of the dying Floyd, to be charged with murder.

“They need to go to jail, all four cops ... because they decided to do nothing when an innocent black man was being murdered about a $20 counterfeit bill,” said Erica Chick, who drove up from Charles City, Iowa, to attend Wednesday’s protests.

“They should have been in jail 10 minutes after it happened,” added Katy Cummins-Bakko, of St. Paul.

One of Freeman’s neighbors, Mark Bartlett, watched the demonstration unfold from his front lawn.

“It’s a horrible embarrassment for Minneapolis and I’m sure that Freeman is horrified also. I’m not sure if he would be able to act on the information [to file charges] yet,” Bartlett said.

A larger crowd of at least 100 people, many carrying signs, gathered outside what’s believed to be Chauvin’s home along Helmo Avenue North in Oakdale.

Someone threw opened cans of red paint onto the driveway, and the word “Killer” was written in red on the garage door. Written in chalk on the street in front of his house: “George Floyd,” “A murderer lives here,” and “He said he couldn’t breathe.”

Around 6:45 p.m., police blocked off Helmo Avenue North, the main thoroughfare supplying a stream of cars and attention for protesters. A squad of about 30 officers from the Washington County Mobile Field Force arrived wearing riot control gear, standing on the street in front of the house. Protesters immediately lined up to face off with the officers.

“If it was anybody else, they would be in jail,” said Ashley Bowes, a mother of five who joined the crowd in Oakdale. The protest, she said, “means everything to me. For my children, this is their sad reality of life. The only way this is going to change is if people stand up.”

No one answered the front door of the house believed to be Chauvin’s when a protestor knocked, and there was no car parked in the driveway, but Bowes said she saw someone turning off lights and moving window curtains at the residence on Tuesday night.

“Yes,” she said, Chauvin was at the home.

A neighbor who asked not to be identified said Chauvin hasn’t been at the house lately because it’s been under renovation, pointing to a bag of construction debris in the driveway.

The protestors first showed up in the Oakdale neighborhood on Tuesday, when the Washington County Mobile Field Force was deployed to disperse a large gathering there “for the further protection of the neighborhood.”

The Oakdale Police Department “empathizes with a hurting community and recognizes the ability of its citizens to peacefully protest in public spaces in an orderly, civil and lawful manner,” police said in a news release.

In Duluth, more protests

Two and a half hours north of Minneapolis, about 100 people gathered in a busy intersection to express anger over the Floyd’s death.

“If you’re anywhere in Minnesota, you should be mad about this. You should be trying to protest,” said Jaylah Willis, an 18-year-old from Duluth. “This isn’t the first time this has happened.”

The Duluth protest was organized by two college students on Facebook. What started as a small group waving signs on the corner of London Road and E. 21st Avenue turned into a march that drew a dozen police cars, which blocked off traffic as the group trudged a few blocks west.

Protestors chanted and waved signs that said “Justice for George” and “Prosecute the police.” They elicited honks of support from passersby, as well as middle fingers and swear words. At one point, before squad cars arrived, a man drove a few feet with a protester on his window because she refused to get out of his way.

“It’s been really overwhelming,” said Aurora Moon, one of the 19-year-old organizers, who said she wasn’t expecting the event to evolve like it did. She, like many others at the protest, called for the prosecution of the now-fired officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck.

“We want them to know Duluth is watching them and we won’t be silent,” Moon said.

After almost three hours of standing and marching, the protestors — a group that dwindled down to about 50 people — crowded around Duluth Police Sgt. Tony Radloff’s car, yelling and chanting more.

“Is my son next?” cried Brayleigh Keliin, a 19-year-old with a seven-month-old named Kingston. The baby’s father, Joe Carter, who is black, had a target painted on his back in red.

Growing tensions between protesters and the handful of nearby officers were punctuated with moments of communion. Five-year-old Shaylee Diver told her mother, Ashley, that she wanted to be a police officer when she grew up — then she ran and hugged officer Joe Miketin, who gave her a sticker badge.

“Not all police are bad,” Ashley Diver later snapped at a protester yelling in officers’ faces.

Radloff eventually exited his car and was surrounded by protesters. Keliin stood next to him, waving a sign listing more than 40 people of color who were killed by police.

“Say their names,” she repeated.

“George Floyd … Philando Castile … Jamar Clark,” Radloff began to read, and the crowd quieted down.

“I know they’re blaming the uniform I wear. I signed up for this. I can’t take it personally,” the officer said afterward, as most of the protesters dispersed.

As she walked away with Carter to go pick up their son, Keliin said she appreciated what Radloff did.

“But reading names doesn’t change things,” she said. “Police officers are the ones who turned those lives into hashtags.



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