Protests and rioting erupted for a second night in Minneapolis following the death of a black man who had been physically restrained by four white police officers.
George Floyd (46) was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by police officers on the side of a street in the Minnesota city on Monday. Video footage shot by a bystander shows one of the police officers pressing his knee to Mr Floyd’s neck. The detained man can he heard groaning, and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”, before he stops speaking. He later died in police custody.
The four policemen involved in the incident have been fired, but there have been calls for them to face a criminal prosecution.
The death of Mr Floyd has sparked allegations of institutional racism within the police and instantly drew comparisons to the death of Eric Garner, who died after being held in a chokehold by a New York police officer in 2014 .
Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey was among those who called for criminal charges to e filed, and said that Mr Floyd would still be alive if he was white. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man’s neck. Five minutes.”
Demonstrations took place in the south side of Minneapolis on Wednesday night, as protesters clashed with police. Some businesses and buildings were set alight and looting was reported at a Target supermarket. A police precinct building in the area was also attacked. One man was shot dead by a member of the public. An investigation into the shooting is underway.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden called for a thorough FBI investigation into the death of Mr Floyd, who worked as a security guard in a local restaurant. “George Floyd deserved better and his family deserves justice. His life mattered. I’m grateful for the swift action in Minneapolis to fire the officers involved – they must be held responsible for their egregious actions. The FBI should conduct a thorough investigation,” he said.
President Donald Trump said he had asked for an FBI and Department of Justice investigation into Mr Floyd’s death to be expedited. “My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”, he said on Twitter.
Ilhan Omar, a Democrat who represents a Minneapolis district in the House of Representatives, tweeted: “The police officer who killed George Floyd should be charged with murder.”
She later called for protests to be peaceful as riots took place in her home town on Wednesday night. “Violence only begets violence,” she said. “We should and must protest peacefully.”
The death of Mr Floyd comes a few weeks after three men in Georgia were charged with the shooting of an African-American man, Ahmaud Arbery, who was jogging near the city of Brunswick on a Sunday afternoon.
While the incident happened in February, no arrests were initially made, despite a police report being filed at the time. The emergence of footage of the shooting two months later prompted widespread public outrage at the incident. A father and son are awaiting trial on charges of federal murder, while a third man who filmed the incident was subsequently arrested and charged by police last week.