US President Donald Trump has threatened to send in the military to help deal with protests after rioting broke out in anger over the death of George Floyd.
He wrote on Twitter that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ after saying he had offered the state of Minnesota’s governor support for use of the military and describing ‘I can’t breathe’ protesters as thugs.
Demonstrators have set fire to buildings and took over a police station after video emerged of officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
This morning Donald Trump tweeted: ‘I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. 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. 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!’
A Minneapolis Police Department spokesman said the protesters broke into the 3rd precinct station, which has become the scene of numerous demonstrations by those angered at the video showing 46-year-old George Floyd’s arrest.
I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. 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…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
The spokesman said police abandoned the building ‘in the interest of the safety of our personnel’ while livestream video showed the protesters breaking in, setting the building ablaze and igniting fireworks as fire alarms blared and sprinklers ran.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz earlier on Thursday called in the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request, but it was not immediately clear when and where the reserve force was being deployed and troops were not seen at protests in the city or nearby St Paul.
Businesses in both cities have boarded up their windows and doors in an effort to prevent looting, with Minneapolis-based Target announcing it was temporarily closing two dozen area stores.
Minneapolis has shut down nearly its entire light-rail system and all bus service until at least Sunday out of safety concerns.
The demonstrations began on Tuesday after Mr Floyd died the previous day in a video in which Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneels on his neck until he slowly stops talking and moving. The 3rd Precinct covers the portion of south Minneapolis where Floyd died.
Chauvin, whose driveway was splattered with red paint and the graffiti ‘murderer’, has not spoken publicly since Mr Floyd’s death and his lawyer did not respond to calls seeking comment.