WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: Riots have broken out in the US across Minnesota’s largest city after a man died following a violent police arrest.
Hundreds of protesters, many carrying signs and wearing face masks, filled the streets of Minneapolis near the scene of the deadly encounter for a second day on Wednesday (local time).
Some clashed with police in riot gear, who fired tear gas into the crowds and lobbed concussion grenades.
Demonstrators pelted police with rocks, water bottles and other projectiles. Looters have been filmed pouring into numerous shops and stripping the shelves of merchandise.
One video captures rows of empty shelves in Target as tear gas lingers in the air.
Confronting images also show people pouring milk into their eyes to stop the stinging and standing face-to-face with armed officers.
The scenes mirror other riots that have erupted across the divided country in the wake of George Floyd’s shocking death on Monday (local time).
At a Black Lives Matter rally in Los Angeles, a police car was seen driving into a crowd of demonstrators.
Four sacked police officers identified
Video of Monday’s fatal encounter between police and Floyd, which has stirred a national outcry, shows him lying face down in the street with a white police officer pinning his knee against the man’s throat.
Floyd is heard on the recording gasping for air and groaning, “I can’t breathe”, before he finally grows still, while onlookers plead with the officer to let him up.
He calls for his mother and says: “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts... I can’t breathe.”
The 46-year-old can also be heard saying: “They’re going to kill me.”
The city identified the four now sacked officers on Wednesday as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. It did not identify which officer had his knee against Floyd’s throat, and provided no further information.
Calls for criminal charges
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called on prosecutors to file criminal charges against the former police officer pressing his knee into Mr Floyd’s neck.
"Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail? If you had done it or I had done it we would be behind bars right now," Mr Frey said during a press conference.
"I am calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman ... to charge the arresting officer in this case."
Mr Frey had previously apologised to the African-American community and said “being black in America shouldn’t be a death sentence.”
President Donald Trump said the Justice Department and the FBI are investigating the Mr Floyd’s case.
George Floyd was starting a new life
Mr Floyd, 46, a dad of a six-year-old girl, was originally from Houston and had moved to Minneapolis in 2014 for a new start.
Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston and in 2009 was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents.
Christopher Harris, Floyd’s lifelong friend, said he and some of their mutual friends had moved to Minneapolis in search of jobs around 2014. Harris said he talked Floyd into moving there as well after he got out of prison.
“He was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning,” Harris said. “He was happy with the change he was making.”
Before he died, Mr Floyd had lost his job as a bouncer at a restaurant when Minnesota’s governor issued a stay-at-home order.
Donnell Cooper, one of Floyd’s former classmates, said Mr Floyd had towered over everyone at school and earned the nickname “gentle giant.”
“Quiet personality but a beautiful spirit,” Mr Cooper said.
His death “definitely caught me by surprise. It’s just so sad, the world we’re living in now.”
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