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Citywide protests explode in US as police struggle with looters

Police stations burnt to the ground, cars set on fire every block and the president threatening to shoot looters: the US city of Minneapolis is a scene of mayhem as protesters descend into anarchy.

The wild scenes of rebellion come after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died after pleading for help as a police officer used his knee on Floyd’s neck to pin him – unarmed and handcuffed – to the ground.

His death has sparked outrage and protests across the country.

Protesters burn the Minneapolis Police Department 3rd Precinct during protests. (AAP/TANNEN MAURY)
Protesters burn the Minneapolis Police Department 3rd Precinct during protests over the Minneapolis, Minnesota arrest of George Floyd, who later died in police custody. (AAP/TANNEN MAURY)

Livestream video showed the protesters entering the building, where fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran as blazes were set.

Nine News US correspondent Tim Arvier shot video of a group of men attempting to break into a Minneapolis bank during the mayhem.

Arvier says everywhere he and the camera crew drove, they passed flaming wrecks of burnt-out cars and shells of buildings that have burnt to the ground.

In Columbus, Ohio a crowd of at least 300 outraged people were hit with pepper spary after refusing to move on from blocking the street.

Seen from Hiawatha Avenue, a large fire burns Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP)
Protesters are continuing to clash with police with an official department building being set alight, forcing officers to flee. (AP)

No arrests have been confirmed in Ohio, however there are reports protestors have used smoke bombs against police and at least one officer was allegedly punched during the violence.

As riots raged, President Donald Trump called the protesters “thugs” and insinuated that looters would be shot in a series of tweets.

In the tweets, President Trump threatened to bring in the National Guard to “get the job done right”.

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he said.

The tweets have since been hidden by Twitter with a notice that they incite violence and go against Twitter’s rules about violence.

Protestors demonstrate outside of a burning Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct in Minneapolis. (AP)
A police building was set alight by protesters in Minneapolis near where Geroge floyd died earlier this week. (AP)

Protests continue to escalate

A state of emergency was earlier called as the city of Minneapolis boils over into total mayhem and more rioting over the death of Mr Floyd.

9News reporter Tim Arvier was on the scene as police vehicles were attacked by rocks and projectiles were aimed at officers amid chaotic and alarming scenes.

One man appeared to be stabbed, with his alleged attacker arrested by heavily protected police and the victim rushed away for treatment.

As the chaos unfolded, Minnesota prosecutor Michael Freeman told reporters while the video showing Mr Floyd’s death was “terrible”, there was other evidence that “does not support a criminal charge”.

Young men stand atop a burning car in the Target parking lot E. Lake St. during a third night of unrest following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. (Edward Washington,cq/Star Tribune via AP)
Armed police respond after a man was stabbed during riots in Minneapolis.
Armed police respond after a man was stabbed during riots in Minneapolis. (9News)
A man has been stabbed during riots over the death of an unarmed black man.
A man has been stabbed during riots over the death of an unarmed black man. (9News)
A protester hurls a huge rock at a police car after a stabbing during Minneapolis riots.
A protester hurls a huge rock at a police car after a stabbing during Minneapolis riots. (9News)

He later withdrew that statement and said he misspoke about “other evidence”.

“Evidence not favourable to our case needs to be carefully examined to understand the full picture of what actually happened,” a later statement read.

“This happens in every case. “

Federal prosecutor Erica MacDonald told reporters she has hoped to brief them on a new development in the case but couldn’t at this point.

“We are going to investigate it as expeditiously, as thoroughly as justice demands,” Freeman told reporters.

“That video is graphic, horrific and terrible. And no person should do that.”

Both MacDonald and Freeman said the investigation requires more time.

The Minneapolis unrest ravaged several blocks in the Longfellow neighbourhood, with scattered rioting reaching for kilometres across the city.

Some stores in Minneapolis and the suburbs closed early, fearing more strife.

The city shut down its light-rail system and planned to stop all bus service out of safety concerns.

Around midday (3am AEST), the violence spread a few kilometres away to a Target in St Paul’s Midway neighbourhood, where police said 50 to 60 people rushed the store attempting to loot it.

Police and state patrol squad cars later blocked the entrance, but the looting then shifted to shops along nearby University Avenue, one of St Paul’s main commercial corridors, and other spots in the city.

St Paul spokesman Steve Linders said authorities have been dealing with unrest in roughly 20 different areas throughout the city.

A protester throws an object at police during the violence. (AP)
A man holds a sign as riots over the death of George Floyd escalate,
A man holds a sign as riots over the death of George Floyd escalate, (9News)

The protests that have developed were more violent than earlier in the week, which included skirmishes between offices and protesters but no widespread property damage or looting.

Amid the violence in Minneapolis, a man was found fatally shot Wednesday night near a pawn shop, possibly by the owner, authorities said.

The last time the Minnesota National Guard was called out to deal with civil unrest was in a backup role during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St Paul.

The most comparable situation to the current disturbances happened when the Guard was called up to deal with the riots in Minneapolis in 1967, a summer when anger over racial inequalities came to a boil in many cities across the country.

  • With CNN, AP
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Source: 9News

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