Minneapolis, MN – Rioters scorched and looted the Twin Cities for the third consecutive night on Thursday.
The Minnesota National Guard has activated over 500 soldiers to help quell the mayhem.
Hundreds of businesses have been damaged, looted, vandalized or burned to the ground as protests turned into violent riots in the wake of the in-custody death of 46-year-old George Floyd.
St. Paul police said that in the capital city alone, over 170 buildings have been damaged or destroyed, KARE reported.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered police to abandon the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) 3rd Precinct at approximately 10 p.m. on Thursday night, and said he had been considering the possibility of doing so since shortly before noon that day, WCCO reported.
Rioters promptly forced their way into the precinct and burned it to the ground.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, rioters pelted them with projectiles, witnesses told the Star Tribune.
Bystanders said that members of the mob also fired bullets into the burning police station.
“We’re hearing unconfirmed reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct have been cut and other explosive materials are in the building,” the City of Minneapolis tweeted during the night. “If you are near the building, for your safety, PLEASE RETREAT in the event the building explodes.”
Frey discussed his decision to abandon the police department during a 1:30 a.m. press conference on Friday, according to WCCO.
“Brick and mortar is not as important as life,” he declared. “The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the significance of life or the public…We could not risk serious injury to anyone.”
Frey said that the three days of destruction “is unacceptable,” but noted that “there is a lot of pain and anger right now.”
“What’s the plan here?” one reporter asked during the press conference, according to the Star Tribune.
“With regard to?” Frey responded before latter adding, “We are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep the peace.”
Police seem unable to stop the rioting as the department’s community-oriented policing model towards crowd control leaves them unable to confront violent rioters effectively.
Officers have not been given body armor or shields and are forced to withdraw as rioters continue to throw rocks, frozen bottles of water, and explosives at them.
The rioters are inexplicably not de-escalating despite being asked to stop destroying the city.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Friday morning to address the rioting in Minneapolis.
“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” President Trump tweeted. ” A total lack of leadership. 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.”
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” the president’s tweets continues. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you! “
Twitter later flagged the President’s tweet, saying it “violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today,” WCCO reported.
Frey clapped back at Trump’s statements during the predawn press conference on Friday.
“Weakness is pointing the finger at someone else during a time of crisis,” the mayor declared. “Donald J. Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell, and you better be damn sure we’re going to get through this!”
The rioting has escalated each day with increasingly more property destruction and looting throughout the area.
The Minnesota National Guard announced Thursday night that they have activated more than 500 soldiers to St. Paul, Minneapolis, and the surrounding communities.
“Our mission is to protect life, preserve property and the right to peacefully demonstrate” the National Guard said in a tweet. “A key objective is to ensure fire departments are able to respond to calls.”
The members of a CNN News crew were arrested in the middle of a live television broadcast at approximately 5:15 a.m. on Friday, NBC News reported.
“In the course of clearing the streets and restoring order at Lake Street and Snelling Avenue, four people were arrested by State Patrol troopers, including three members of a CNN crew,” the Minnesota State Patrol said in a statement. “The three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media.”
CNN argued that the team should have been allowed to leave without being arrested because they had already told the officers they were members of the media.
“A CNN reporter & his production team were arrested this morning in Minneapolis for doing their jobs, despite identifying themselves — a clear violation of their First Amendment rights,” CNN said in a statement before the crew’s release. “The authorities in Minnesota, incl. the Governor, must release the 3 CNN employees immediately.”
After being contacted by CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said that the news team should never have been arrested and apologized for the officers’ actions, according to NBC News.
The crew was released shortly thereafter.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey held a press conference earlier Thursday, but offered no plan for how to end the rioting.
The mayor had encouraged people to join the first night of protests which turned into rioting on Tuesday.
“What we’ve seen over the last two days and the emotion-ridden conflict of last night is the result of so much built-up anger and sadness – anger and sadness that has been ingrained in our black community not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years,” Frey said during the press conference.
Frey said that is isn’t just “understandable” that people are feeling angry and sad, but it is also “right.”
“It is a reflection of the truth that our black community has lived,” he declared. “That sadness must also be understood by our non-black communities.”
Frey appeared to choke up as he encouraged the city to “be better” than they have been in the past.
People need to confront their “shortcomings with humility” and “restore the peace,” he added.
Frey said he has spoken with George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney, who said Floyd “was all about love and all about peace.”
“He did not receive that love and that peace from our officers on the night of May 25,” the mayor told reporters.
Frey said that the city is facing a “time when one crisis is sandwiched against another,” but that it could be a turning point for the city.
“We could look back to know that we rose to right the wrongs of the past, not just with words, but with action,” he declared. “We need to offer radical love and compassion.”
The mayor said that there will be “an all-out effort to restore peace and security” in the days ahead, but failed to specify how he plans to reach that goal.
“Our communities need grocery stores for food. We need banks for cash. We need pharmacies for needed medication,” Frey said. “Let’s hold these communities dear by doing right by them and by safeguarding them and these community assets that we know they need, especially during a pandemic.”
The mayor noted that the city is dealing with a budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that it will be difficult to find the money to assist those who suffered losses due to the damages to or complete losses of their businesses.
“This sort of calls the question of how much we do need assistance from the federal and state government now,” he said. “We needed it before this killing took place. It’s all the more essential after.”
Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins also spoke during the press conference on Thursday.
After stepping up to the podium, Jenkins sang a snippet of the traditional hymn, “Amazing Grace,” before extending her condolences to Floyd’s family members, calling each of them out by name.
Jenkins, who said she was speaking on behalf of all black people in the country, said that they all “feel as if there was a knee on all of our collective necks – a knee that says ‘black life does not matter.’”
“As we stand here grieving yet another loss of black life – a senseless, tragic loss of black life – I know that something’s gotta change,” she added.
Jenkins then asked her fellow city leaders and community members to “declare a state of emergency, declaring racism as a public health issue.”
“In an effort to try and cure this disease, I am stating exactly what everyone else has witnessed, and that is racism,” she declared.
Jenkins told protesters that they have “every right” to express their anger and sadness, but firmly denounced the destruction and looting that took place throughout the city in the wake of Floyd’s death.
“You have no right to perpetrate violence and harm on the very communities that you say that you are standing up for,” she said. “We need peace and calm in our streets, and I am begging you for that calm.”
City leaders are working to establish a “healing space” at the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) 3rd Precinct in order for people to “grieve, express their concerns, their anger, in a safe and humane way,” Jenkins noted.
It is unclear whether the “healing space” will still be established due to the fact that rioters have since burned the building to the ground.