Tear gas, chaos, rain: Protests rage after man dies in Mpls. police custody
Updated: 9:50 p.m.
Hundreds of protesters lined a south Minneapolis intersection Tuesday night calling for justice in the Memorial Day death of George Floyd after a video surfaced showing a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck as the man told the officer repeatedly he couldn’t breathe.
The video sparked outrage across the country, and led to the firing of four officers tied to the incident. It also set triggered waves of anger that led to violent clashes in the rain Tuesday night between cops and protesters in south Minneapolis.
Protesters, some carrying signs saying "I can't breathe,'' spilled onto the street in front of Cup Foods, in 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South, where police were called about 8 p.m. Monday on a report of a forgery, police have said.
Crowds marched about 2 1/2 miles to a city police precinct, with some protesters damaging windows, a squad car and spraying graffiti on the building. A line of police in riot gear eventually confronted the protesters, firing tear gas.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is Member supported public media. Show your support today, donate, and ensure access to local news and in-depth conversations for everyone.
Confrontations were still happening after 9 p.m. It wasn’t clear if anyone had been arrested in the chaos.
Floyd’s death is under investigation by the FBI for possible civil rights violations. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is also investigating, which is standard procedures in such cases.
Minneapolis police initially said that they’d been called to the Cup Foods scene at about 8 p.m. Monday on a report of a forgery in progress. A statement said Floyd physically resisted officers’ attempts to take him into custody.
“Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” a spokesperson said.
That response kindled even more anger as people saw the video of Floyd subdued and handcuffed face down on the ground for several minutes pleading with the officer that he was in pain and couldn’t breathe.
State and local leaders called on the city for more answers in the death of the 46-year-old Floyd, and several pastors asked the community to remain peaceful in its protest. Gov. Tim Walz vowed to find answers and “seek justice” in the case.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was quick to condemn the officers’ actions on social media and in interviews.
“George Floyd’s life mattered. He was a human being and what all of us saw in that video was wrong in every sense,” Frey said Tuesday in an interview with North News streamed on Facebook. “It was horrid."
“When you hear someone call for help — especially when you’re charged with protecting and serving — you provide that help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense,” the mayor said.