Demonstrations continued over the death of George Floyd in the Twin Cities Thursday, with protesters launching various objects at St. Paul police vehicles and looters striking local businesses.
Floyd, a black man, died in police custody earlier this week after a white police officer appeared to pin him to the ground with his knee for several minutes.
St. Paul police wrote on Twitter that officers encountered looters and vandals near the Target store on University Avenue and elsewhere. Police said they were met with protesters hurling rocks, liquor bottles and bricks.
Sarah Danik, a reporter for the local Fox 9 TV station, shared images Thursday that she said were taken at the scene beginning around 3 p.m. They show crowds of masked protesters and police officers, and crashing or banging noises can be heard in some of the videos. In one image, a cloud of smoke, which she identified as tear gas, is seen rising from the sidewalk.
“Officers are giving dispersal orders to groups gathered in various areas of the city, damaging property and attempting to steal from businesses,” the St. Paul Police Department tweeted.
By 4:30 p.m., Danik tweeted that the crowds had dispersed, and she posted a photo that showed a small fire burning in the parking lot near a police vehicle.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter implored city residents to “please stay home.”
“Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement, and on preventing this from ever happening again,” he tweeted. “We can all be in that fight together.”
On Wednesday night, looters ransacked a Target store off East Lake Street in Minneapolis, which is near the city police department’s 3rd Precinct building, according to Fox 9.
Gov. Tim Walz activated the National Guard early Thursday evening to help respond to violence stemming from the protests. He also urged demonstrators to act “peacefully and safely.”
In the video that prompted the protests, which was released earlier this week, Floyd pleaded for his life and said he couldn’t breathe. Numerous bystanders asked the responding officers to take the pressure off of his neck and check his pulse.
Floyd was unconscious by the end of the clip, which is several minutes long. Medics arrived in an ambulance to load him onto a stretcher, and he appeared limp. He was later pronounced dead.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have voiced concerns over the video, with President Trump tweeting Wednesday night that he had requested the FBI to open an investigation into Floyd’s death.
“My heart goes out to George’s family and friends,” Trump wrote. “Justice will be served.”
The FBI is expected to deliver an update on the case early Thursday evening.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.