Violent protesters have set fire to a police station after days of rioting following the death of a black man in custody.
Terrifying footage shows fire roaring through the Third Precinct in the US city of Minneapolis, with fears growing the station could explode.
Police have been evacuated from the precinct and the huge crowd protesting at its steps have been urged to move away.
“We’re hearing unconfirmed reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct have been cut and other explosive materials are in the building,” the City of Minneapolis tweeted.
“If you are near the building, for you safety, PLEASE RETREAT in the event the building explodes.”
We're hearing unconfirmed reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct have been cut and other explosive materials are in the building.— City of Minneapolis (@CityMinneapolis) May 29, 2020
If you are near the building, for your safety, PLEASE RETREAT in the event the building explodes.
Civil unrest has been raging for days after footage emerged of the fatal arrest of a black man, George Floyd, on Monday (local time).
Video showed Floyd gasping for breath as a white policeman knelt on his neck after he was arrested over suspicions he was using a counterfeit bank note.
In the footage Floyd said he couldn’t breathe before he fell silent and limp. He was later declared dead and the four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest were fired.
The police precinct went up in flames late Thursday (local time) on the third day of demonstrations. Earlier video showed the chaos among the riots with stabbings, and police car attacks reported.
The precinct, which police abandoned, burned after a group of protesters pushed through barriers around the building, breaking windows and chanting slogans. A much larger crowd demonstrated as the building went up in flames.
In video posted to Twitter flames are seen roaring out of the police station, with scenes described as “insane” as gunfire and fireworks are heard ringing out in the footage.
Another video shared on Twitter shows the huge crowd chanting and cheering as the precinct goes up in flames.
“Rioters have taken over,” Minnesota Reformer reporter Max Nesterak said.
BREAKING: The third precinct police station is on fire. Rioters have taken over pic.twitter.com/AJg4jDr9Tz— Max Nesterak (@maxnesterak) May 29, 2020
City police said in a statement shortly after 10pm (local time) Thursday, the precinct was evacuated.
“In the interest of the safety of our personnel, the Minneapolis Police Department evacuated the 3rd Precinct of its staff,” police said.
Family demands cops face murder charges
Officials assured angry residents that investigations into Floyd's death were underway, and warned that violence would not be tolerated.
"We know there's a lot of anger. We know there's a lot of hurt," said St Paul Police Chief Todd Axtel.
"But we can't tolerate people using this as an opportunity to commit crimes.”
Floyd's family demanded the officer and three others who were present, all since fired from their jobs, face murder charges.
"You know, I want an arrest for all four of those officers tonight. A murder conviction for all four of those officers. I want the death penalty," Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN.
"I have not slept in four days, and those officers, they're at home sleeping," he said.
"I can't stand for that.
"But people are torn and hurting because they are tired of seeing black men die, constantly, over and over again."
Two African American leaders of national stature, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, arrived in Minneapolis and urged more protests.
"We told the governor you must call murder a murder," Jackson told an audience at the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
"When you put... your foot down somebody's neck until they can't breathe no longer, you murdered them," he said.
Sharpton said videos were all the evidence needed to arrest the police officers involved.
"We are going to make sure that this prosecution goes down," said Sharpton.
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