Officers in George Floyd’s death invoke 5th amendment

Protests sweep Minnesota, tension increases between police and public

Unrest in the southern part of Minnesota has increased as protesters took to the streets Wednesday following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old man who died in police custody on Memorial Day.

Police claimed he was resisting arrest. Cell phone video shows a police officer pinning Floyd him under his knee. Floyd complains he can’t breathe and minutes later is seen limp.

»RELATED: Who was George Floyd?

On Tuesday, four officers were fired. On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department announced it is making the federal investigation into George Floyd's death a “top priority.”

This story contains updates on the community and law enforcement response to Floyd’s death.

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has activated the National Guard to deal with unrest in his state after the death of George Floyd, according  to reporter Theo Keith.

Original story:

After two consecutive nights of violent protests that tore through Minneapolis, the U.S. Justice Department announced Thursday morning it has made the federal investigation into Floyd’s death a “top priority.”

In a joint statement, U.S. Attorney Erica Macdonald and FBI Special Agent In Charge Rainer Drolshagen also promised a “robust criminal investigation” will be conducted into Floyd’s death.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of Minnesota, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office are involved.

One man was shot to death Wednesday night in Minneapolis after another day of protests over the death of a black man in police custody. Violence ripped the city into early Thursday, with protesters looting stores near a police precinct and setting fires.

Police said they were investigating the death as a homicide and had a suspect in custody, but were still investigating what led to the shooting.

A man poses  in front of a fire at an AutoZone store, while protesters hold a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday night. 

Credit: Carlos Gonzalez

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Credit: Carlos Gonzalez

Protesters also briefly blocked a highway in Los Angeles. Highway 101 was the scene, according to Fox News, and protesters clung to a California Highway Patrol cruiser during a downtown demonstration over the death of Floyd.

In Minneapolis, a building reportedly had collapsed early Thursday, and fires were seen at a new apartment complex, a factory building, a restaurant and nearby houses on East Lake Street in Minneapolis, according to multiple reports.

Protesters began gathering in the early afternoon Wednesday near the city's 3rd Precinct station, in the southern part of the city where 46-year-old Floyd died on Memorial Day after an officer knelt on his neck until he became unresponsive.

Splattered paint and chalk writing are on the driveway of the home of fired Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Credit: Jeff Wheeler

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Credit: Jeff Wheeler

News helicopter footage showed protesters milling in streets near the city's 3rd Precinct station, with some running in and out of nearby stores. A Target, a Cub Foods, a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store all showed signs of damage and looting. As darkness fell, fire erupted in the auto parts store, and city fire crews rushed to control it. Protesters set other fires in the street.

Officers could be seen surrounding the nearby precinct, not attempting to intervene in the looting.

Police spokesman John Elder said officers responding to a reported stabbing near the protests found a man lying on the sidewalk with what turned out to be a bullet wound. The man was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Elder said a suspect was in custody but said the facts leading up to the shooting were “still being sorted out.”

Violent protests broke out in Minneapolis for a second straight night Wednesday, with protesters in a standoff with officers outside a police precinct and looting of nearby stores. 

Credit: Carlos Gonzalez

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Credit: Carlos Gonzalez

It was the second night of violent protest since the death of Floyd, whom police were seeking to arrest outside a Minneapolis grocery store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed. A bystander's cellphone video showed an officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for almost eight minutes as he eventually became unresponsive.

Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted for calm early Thursday. “Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy,” he said on Twitter. He also asked for the public’s help in keeping the peace.

The officer and three others were fired Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Frey called for him to be criminally charged.

Protesters also gathered Wednesday evening at the officer’s suburban home as well as the Minneapolis home of Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County prosecutor who would make a charging decision in the case. No violence was reported in those protests.

As the protests stretched into the evening, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo urged calm. In an interview with KMSP-TV, he noted the internal investigation as well as the FBI’s investigation of Floyd’s death and said they offer a chance at justice.

“Justice historically has never come to fruition through some of the acts we’re seeing tonight, whether it’s the looting, the damage to property or other things,” he said.

Protesters damage property at the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct.

Credit: Carlos Gonzalez

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Credit: Carlos Gonzalez

Elder said officers from St. Paul, Metro Transit and the state patrol were helping police the area.

In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd's death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers on Wednesday.

Rich Barak and Kelcie Willis of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report. The Associated Press contributed to this report.