Fury across U.S. as protesters demand justice for George Floyd's death

In Minnesota, where protests have erupted into violence for the last three nights, the governor said, "This is not about George's death. ... This is about chaos."

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By Alicia Victoria Lozano

Fury sparked by George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody spawned massive protests and chaos across the country Friday night into Saturday morning.

In Minneapolis, demonstrators ignored a curfew and vows of a forceful police response to take to the streets for a fourth straight night. Banks, gas stations and even a post office were destroyed.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Saturday protests that initially were peaceful earlier in the week have now turned toward "wanton destruction and chaos."

Demonstrations that descend into violence are not about "George Floyd's death or inequities or historical traumas to our communities of color," Walz said.

In response, he said the state would mobilize its entire National Guard for the first time since World War II.

"Our tactics again are to try and reduce loss of life and restore order," he said.

Similarly, the mayor of St. Paul said that while that city was quieter Friday night than the previous night, he has been told that all of those arrested were from out of state.

While "there's a group of folks that are sad and mourning" about Floyd, Mayor Melvin Carter said, "there seems to be another group that are using Mr. Floyd's death as a cover to create havoc."

Demonstrations also rocked cities from New York to Atlanta to Los Angeles.

In New York, demonstrators blocked the Brooklyn Bridge, while Atlanta, Portland and Los Angeles also saw violence. In Washington, the White House was briefly locked down as demonstrators hurled stones at police and security guards.

A 19-year-old man was killed in Detroit after shots were fired into a crowd of people.

Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a shooting at a federal building on Friday that killed an officer with the Federal Protective Service and injured another.

The shots rang out amid protests in Oakland over the death of George Floyd, authorities said.

"An individual inside the vehicle began firing gunshots at contract security officers for the Federal Protective Service of the Department of Homeland Security," FBI San Francisco said in a statement.

The FBI is continuing to investigate the shooting, which occurred at 9:45 p.m. at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building.

The Federal Protective Service is used "to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from terrorism, criminal acts, and other hazards threatening the U.S. Government’s critical infrastructure, services, and the people who provide or receive them," according to DHS.

Across the country, hundreds who engaged in the protests were arrested, as police cars were burned and scuffles broke out between law enforcement and protesters. In Houston alone, police said they had arrested 200 people.

Back in Minnesota, Walz called the situation on the ground "incredibly dangerous" and "incredibly dynamic."

Walz said he was moving quickly to mobilize more than 1,000 additional guard members, for a total of 1,700, and was considering the potential offer of federal military police. But he warned even that might not be enough, saying he expected another difficult night Saturday.

Maintaining control of the Twin Cities was starting to look more like a military operation than a peacekeeping mission, he said, adding: "This is not about George's death. This is not about inequalities that were real. This is about chaos."

Acknowledging reports that white supremacists and drugs cartels were taking advantage of the widespread chaos in Minneapolis and fueling some of the destruction throughout the region, he said his office was working closely with federal officials to identify any organized groups fueling the mayhem.

In a show of force rarely seen on American streets, dozens of armed law enforcement officers marched in formation toward the Minneapolis Police Department 5th Precinct Friday night, one day after demonstrators destroyed the 3rd Precinct, the former home base of four officers connected to Floyd's death.

Elsewhere, in Atlanta, a tense scene grew fiery as hundreds of people stormed the CNN building hours after reporter Omar Jimenez was arrested on live TV in Minneapolis. Police used tear gas on protesters in an attempt to quell some of the fervor that had overtaken parts of the city.

In the nation's capital, a rally prompted a brief lockdown at the White House. It was later lifted, but demonstrations grew increasingly tumultuous throughout the night.

On the second day of protests in New York, a police department van was engulfed in flames. Los Angeles police vehicles were also vandalized in Southern California.

The unrest came despite third-degree murder and manslaughter charges being laid against former police officer Derek Chauvin on Friday. A request to Chauvin’s lawyer for comment was not immediately returned Friday night.

Chauvin was fired Tuesday along with the three other officers involved in Floyd's death, identified by Minneapolis police as Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.

Video footage released earlier in the week shows Chauvin, who is white, putting his knee on Floyd's neck for more than 8 1/2 minutes as he cried “I can’t breathe” and called out for his mother. Stunned onlookers watched helplessly as Floyd, who was black and a former high school star athlete, gasped for air.

The fatal encounter took place Monday after a grocery store clerk called police and reported that Floyd had tried to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill.

Floyd’s loved ones described him as a “gentle giant” who coached kids in his spare time. But his legacy, at least in the immediate, will be of the man whose death forever changed the Twin Cities.

"This is a young rage, the same way young people took to the streets in the 1960s, 70s and 80s," Saje Mathieu, a history professor at the University of Minnesota who lives in suburban Minneapolis, told NBC News. "They're saying, 'We're already cut. We're already hurt. We're already bruised. There's no other way to communicate my pain and rage than to take to the streets.'"

Many of the nation’s police departments condemned the tactics used to restrain Floyd, who was seen in video footage pinned facedown while Chauvin appeared to maintain pressure on Floyd’s neck with his knee despite repeated pleas from Floyd that he couldn’t breathe.

When Floyd stopped moving, Kueng "checked Mr. Floyd’s right wrist for a pulse and said, 'I couldn’t find one.' None of the officers moved from their positions," according to the criminal complaint.

Protesters march down a highway off-ramp on their way to Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 28, 2020.Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

The medical examiner found no evidence that Floyd died from traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Instead, Floyd had coronary artery and hypertensive heart disease and, “the combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death," the complaint said.

“The police officer and those who were there that day failed George Floyd,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Having responded to the unrest on Thursday by calling rioters "thugs" and threatening that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," President Donald Trump softened his tone Friday.

He said the White House was speaking with Floyd's family and working closely with law enforcement.

"I understand the hurt. I understand the pain. People have really been through a lot," he said. "The family of George is entitled to justice, and the people of Minnesota are entitled to live in safety. Law and order will prevail. The Americans will honor the memory of George and the Floyd family."