Protests erupted across the United States on Thursday night as anger over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, intensified, with some demonstrators gaining access to a police precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and setting sections of the building on fire.
Floyd died on Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for several minutes.
A video of the incident shows Floyd pleading with officers, saying “I can’t breathe” before going motionless with the officer’s knee still on his neck.
The four officers involved were swiftly fired, but Floyd’s family, community leaders and residents are calling for arrests to be made.
“These officers, they need to be arrested right now, the people want justice right now,” Philonese Floyd, George’s brother, told CNN on Thursday morning.
“They need to be convicted and get the death penalty,” Philonese said.
Hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis for a third night on Thursday, demanding justice and an end to police violence.
“Say his name. George Floyd,” protesters chanted. “I can’t breathe.”
Video shared on social media showed protesters stopping their march at one point, kneeling and raising a fist in a moment of silence.
As the sun set, a large fire could be seen near the third precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). A live video stream by Unicorn Riot, an independent media organisation, showed protesters eventually entering the precinct and alarms and sprinklers going off as some rooms were set ablaze. Police could not be seen in the building, and the MPD did not immediately comment on reports that police had retreated.
The City of Minneapolis urged protesters to retreat from the area over unconfirmed reports that gas lines had been cut.
“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 tweeted. “If you are near the building, for your safety, PLEASE RETREAT in the event the building explodes.”
Protesters outside the police building could be heard yelling: “We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.”