During a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, Minnesota, called for peace after a night of violent demonstrations in his city, CBS News reported. Protests erupted all over Minneapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday after a video of a Minneapolis police officer violently restraining an unarmed black man was released online.
The video showed one officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, who was heard on the video repeatedly saying that he could not breathe. Floyd died after the officer kneeled on his neck for more than five minutes. Three other law enforcement officers were seen in the video watching the incident and stopping bystanders from intervening. None of them stepped in to stop their fellow officer or help the victim.
Protesters surrounded the Minneapolis police department and took to the streets on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to CBS News. Tuesday’s protests were peaceful, and so were those held during the day on Wednesday. However, on Wednesday night, the protests turned violent. Protesters started breaking windows, looting, and setting fires.
This part of Minneapolis is virtually unrecognizable today. There were around 30 fires reported during Wednesday’s protests. Mayor @Jacob_Frey has now called in the National Guard to help. #GeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/DfBAUXnxhd
— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) May 28, 2020
Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis’s police chief, said that the police had to adjust their response when protesters started setting fires and breaking windows, CBS News reported. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue violent individuals. Arradondo said that he understood why protesters were so angry, but that his police department could not allow them to commit crimes and that they needed to respond appropriately.
Frey also said he understood the anger and grief behind the protests, as quoted by the outlet. He said that these emotions are “ingrained in our black community not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years.” He continued by saying that responding to Floyd’s death with rage and sadness is “not only understandable [but] right,” adding that it’s a “reflection of the truth that our black community has lived.”
The mayor then pleaded for an end to the violence, apparently holding back tears as he spoke.
“I believe in Minneapolis … I love Minneapolis. And In believing in our city, we must believe we can be better than we have been,” he said. “We must confront our shortcomings with both humility and hope. We must restore the peace so we can do this hard work together.”
The mayor explained that the city would be relying on resources from both the state and national levels to restore peace in the city. He stressed that the city’s government would be setting up a team to coordinate the activities of several agencies that would be working together to end the violence.
So far, none of the police officers have been charged in connection to Floyd’s death. Floyd’s family members have demanded that all four of them be charged with murder, and Frey said in a statement on Tuesday that he believes the arresting officer should be criminally charged.