Racial tensions boil over in Minneapolis as protests and looting escalate

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore

Protests against police brutality have broken out in cities across the US overnight. America’s racial pain - the country’s historic open wound - is once more on open display.

It follows the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a 46-year old black man, earlier this week. He appears to have suffocated while handcuffed and under the knee of a white police officer.

The officer was filmed with his knee on the neck of Mr Floyd for several minutes during which time the detained man is heard saying: "I can't breathe, I can't breathe..."

Mr Floyd appeared to have suffocated while handcuffed and under the knee of a white police officer.

The police officer Derek Chauvin was subsequently charged with third degree murder on Friday.

The images of that scene were widely shared on social media and have outraged African Americans, leading to nation-wide demonstrations.

Now the protests have spilled over into violence. There have been scenes of chaos in multiple cities, from Denver to New York.

But the major flashpoint has been centred on the community where Floyd died. Looting in Minneapolis has become widespread with 170 businesses attacked, and a police station has been set ablaze.

An artist creates an image of George Floyd on Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Credit: AP

Amid the chaos, the CNN camera crew who were reporting from the scene were arrested in Minneapolis as they were broadcasting live on air.

It did not appear that State Patrol authorities gave the CNN crew a reason why they were arrested.

Footage shows the team being led away in handcuffs - leaving their camera rolling live on the streets where protesters had been earlier that night.

  • Protesters enter and burn down Minneapolice police station

A protester gestures in front of the burning 3rd Precinct building of the Minneapolis Police Department. Credit: AP

Philonise Floyd said his brother had been killed by the police in broad daylight, adding tearfully: “I am just tired of seeing black people dying.”

The group of four police officers who detained George Floyd have all been fired from their jobs. It is not clear whether they will be prospected, though multiple investigations are underway.

President Trump initially expressed his deep sympathy to the Floyd family. But now he has turned his attention to the mayor of the city and on the protesters themselves, tweeting ominously that further looting would be met with a military response.

That extraordinary escalation by the President - suggesting that the National Guard will open fire on unarmed looters - is likely to fuel tensions further.

The Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, acknowledged that African American anger is the result of deep-seated grievances: “What we’ve seen over the last two days and the emotion-ridden conflict over the last night is the result of so much built-up anger and sadness.”

Protesters chant 'we can't breathe' outside the Minneapolis police station. Credit: AP
Protests have escalated over the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police officers. Credit: AP
Protesters gather in front of a burning fast food restaurant Friday, May 29, 2020. Credit: AP

America is caught now in the midst of a pandemic that has killed 100,000 people and racial turmoil that could engulf multiple cities.

The approaching summer, ahead of a Presidential election, could be a tumultuous mix of brutal politics, racial fury, and a public health emergency.That’s quite a toxic brew for a President who has revealed no ability to build bridges or reduce tensions.