'Grave situation': Today show reporter caught up in violent protest as chaos breaks out

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A Nine News reporter has been caught up in the chaos in Minneapolis following the death of a black man at the hands of a police officer.

Riots and protests have been continuing after the death of George Floyd, 46, as police arrested him outside a convenience store after a report of counterfeit money being passed on Monday.

Video which emerged after Mr Floyd’s arrest showed a police officer kneeling on the back of his neck for eight minutes despite pleas he couldn’t breathe. Four police have been fired over Mr Floyd’s death.

Nine News reporter Tim Arvier was in the middle of the violent protests in Minneapolis. Source: Nine Network/ Today Show

Buildings have been burned down and residents have clashed with police in ugly scenes over the past 48 hours.

Nine’s Tim Arvier has been right in the thick of the chaos. He reported a man being stabbed just metres from him, as a crowd of more than 500 people swarmed the city on Thursday (local time), but paramedics and police were “too nervous” to render assistance.

Video from Arvier’s cross shows four police cars approaching to arrest a man for the alleged stabbing before protests erupt and turn violent.

Police begin to push the crowd back as they make an arrest.

“Oh, geez. That’s a massive brick has been thrown at police,” Arvier says.

Arvier then says stun guns are being drawn by officers.

A police officer yells at the crowd to “get back” as the situation worsens. Arvier and his camera operator run towards a carpark - and another camera man is seen running with them.

The reporter says while everyone is moving back it’s “only firing” crowds up more.

Police officers speak with protesters assisting an injured person. Source: AAP

Further down the street, police were seen blockaded in their station.

“So you know, whether they come down or not, because there is a lot of outrage, people are actually chanting at the police now, but this is a grave situation,” Arvier says.

He continues his cross from the carpark as officers draw weapons aimed at the crowd.

It’s tear gas. A pellet explodes just metres from Arvier.

“Hey, stay away. Stay away,” Arvier tells a man getting near the camera.

“We’re getting a fair bit of aggro here.”

The situation exacerbates as police and protesters clash. Source: Nine Network/ Today Show

Police and a few bystanders are then seen carrying the stabbing victim into a police car.

Arvier reported police were outnumbered in the city and emergency services “too nervous” to help the man who had been stabbed before four police cars arrived on scene.

Stun grenades are then thrown into the crowd.

Arvier notes police are “heavily outnumbered”.

A car burns behind Arvier. Source: Twitter/ Tim Arvier

In a later cross, a protestor asks Arvier and his crew where he’s from. He tells them: “Nine News Australia”.

“It's better to say we are from Australia it is lessening the tension,” Arvier says.

A man’s also heard saying “watch out” for a sniper, which the reporter doubts is true.

National Guard called before night hits Minneapolis

The National Guard has been called in to support police as it’s expected protests will turn violent at nightfall.

Another protest was announced for Thursday evening near county offices downtown. Some stores in Minneapolis and the suburbs planned to close early, fearing more strife. 

The city shut down its light-rail system and planned to stop all bus services “out of concern for the safety of riders and employees,” a statement said.

A Wendy's restaurant following riots. Source: Getty Images

Around midday Thursday, the violence spread to a Target store in the Midway neighbourhood of St Paul, where police said 50 to 60 people rushed the store and attempted to take merchandise. It was just behind where Arvier was reporting from.

St Paul police and state patrol squad cars later blocked the entrance, but looting then spread to shops along nearby University Avenue, one of St Paul’s main commercial corridors, and other spots in the city.

St Paul spokesman Steve Linders said authorities have been dealing with unrest in roughly 20 different areas throughout the city.

“Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement, and on preventing this from ever happening again. We can all be in that fight together,” St Paul Mayor Melvin Carter tweeted.

Police shoot pepper spray at protesters. Source: Getty Images

By Thursday morning in Minneapolis, smoke rose from smoldering buildings in the Longfellow neighbourhood, scenes of the worst violence. 

In a strip mall across the street from the police’s 3rd Precinct station, the focus of the previous night’s protests, the windows in nearly every business had been smashed, from the large Target department store at one end to the Planet Fitness gym at the other. 

Only the 24-hour laundromat appeared to have escaped unscathed.

“WHY US?” demanded a large expanse of red graffiti scrawled on the wall of the Target. A Wendy’s restaurant across the street was charred almost beyond recognition.

Resident Deona Brown, 24, said “we’re burning our own neighbourhood”.

“This is where we live, where we shop, and they destroyed it,” she said.

“What that cop did was wrong, but I’m scared now.”

Protesters burn down an auto parts store. Source: Getty Images

But others in the crowd saw something different in the wreckage.

Protesters destroyed property “because the system is broken,” said a young man who identified himself only by his nickname, Cash, and who said he had been in the streets during the violence. 

He dismissed the idea that the destruction would hurt residents of the largely black neighbourhood.

Officer had ‘dozens of complaints’

The officer who was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck has been named as Derek Chauvin, 44.

Mr Chauvin was a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department before he was fired for the incident, NBC reported.

Three other police officers were also fired and the FBI is investigating their actions.

Mr Chauvin has been the subject of more than a dozen complaints in his career as a police officer. According to documents obtained by NBC, the 44-year-old was with officers who discharged firearms at a man in 2006.

Derek Chauvlin kneels on George Floyd. Source: Facebook

The officers were responding to a stabbing and shot suspect Wayne Reyes dead.

However, it’s unclear if Mr Chauvin was among those who used their gun.

Also in 2006, a Minnesota Correctional Facility inmate launched a federal lawsuit against Mr Chauvin and seven others. It’s not clear what the lawsuit was for.

Two years later Mr Chauvin and another officer responded to a domestic disturbance and Ira Latrell Toles, 21, was found in a bathroom trying to escape.

Toles and Mr Chauvin had a brief struggle and he tried to grab the officer’s weapon. That’s when Mr Chauvin fired two shots into the 21-year-old’s abdomen.

The 21-year-old survived though.

One of the other officers who was fired over the death of Mr Floyd also had complaints against him.

Tou Thao, an officer with a decade of experience, was sued by a man following a 2014 arrest, The Guardian reported.

The man alleged Mr Thao punched, kicked and kneed him. The officer, and two other police, had stopped him while he was walking with his pregnant girlfriend.

Mr Thao told the man there was a warrant for his arrest but this claim later proved to be false.

That lawsuit was settled outside of court.

with Associated Press

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