Live video of protests from Minneapolis, Minnesota, showed a large group of demonstrators breaching the barrier of the police precinct at the center of George Floyd's death and setting fire to the building.
Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have been the center of unrest for days since Floyd died following an arrest caught on video. The footage, which quickly gained viral interest, showed a police officer holding a knee to the back of Floyd's neck. The officer kept it there even as the detained man complained that he could not breathe. The officer continued to hold Floyd down by the neck minutes after the man became unresponsive.
The protests continued late on Thursday night, when a group of protesters reportedly breached the barrier keeping them out of the police precinct. As Ali Velshi of NBC News reported from the scene, at least one person from the group made it inside the precinct, with police reportedly moving to the roof of the building before moving back to ground level.
"Now the crowd is moving back in toward the police," he said, adding that there were volleys of debris thrown from protesters and what appeared to be tear gas canisters thrown by police.
Velshi said that it appeared protesters were trying to squeeze police out and take control of the building. Smoke and fire was seen on the building not long afterward.
Velshi reported that the protests had been peaceful for much of the day, but tensions grew as it neared sundown and people began to breach the barrier set up outside the police precinct. That is where the police officers who were involved in Floyd's death were stationed, he noted.On Thursday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the National Guard in the wake of the protests. Things had grown violent on Wednesday, with a number of buildings set on fire.
"While many Minnesotans are taking extensive safety precautions while exercising their right to protest, the demonstration last night became incredibly unsafe for all involved. The purpose of the National Guard is to protect people, to protect people safely demonstrating, and to protect small business owners."Live video from Thursday's protests showed a number of fires set throughout the city, with Velshi reporting that there was little to no police presence on the streets and no sign of the National Guard. He noted that the crowd around the police precinct numbered in the thousands late on Thursday, with protesters speaking out against systemic racism issues and the lack of arrests for the officers involved in Floyd's death.