A police station in Minneapolis has been set alight during a third night of protests over the death of an unarmed black man in custody on Monday.
The latest unrest in Minnesota’s largest city went largely unchecked late Thursday, with the mayor ordering a tactical police retreat from a police station that was set ablaze.
National Guard troops called out earlier in the day by the governor kept a low profile. Governor Tim Walz had ordered the Guard to help keep the peace after two previous nights of disturbances sparked by George Floyd’s death on Monday.
In a late-night Twitter message, President Donald Trump said he would send in National Guard troops to “get the job done right” if the “weak” mayor failed to restore order, suggesting lethal force might be needed.
“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump wrote.
The arrest of Floyd, 46, was captured by an onlooker’s cell phone video that went viral and showed a police officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as he moaned: “Please, I can’t breathe.”
Four police officers involved in the arrest of Lloyd, who was accused of trying to pass counterfeit money at a corner store, were dismissed on Tuesday, but unrest has continued unabated.
As demonstrations against police brutality against black Americans spread to other parts of the US including New York, Denver, Chicago and Oakland, dozens of businesses were burned and looted in the Midwestern city.
Floyd died in police custody after a white officer handcuffed him but then kneeled on his neck for several minutes as Floyd pleaded that he “could not breathe”.
In a Twitter intervention, hidden by the social media company, Trump denounced protestors as “thugs” and appeared to threaten lethal force.
“These THUGS are dishonouring the memory of George Floyd,” Mr. Trump wrote of the demonstrators, “and I won’t let that happen” adding, “any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Trump has previously avoided commenting on incidents of police brutality against black people.
Twitter hid Trump’s post, saying that it violated their policies “regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line”. It was the latest confrontation between the president and the social media giant. On Thursday Trump issued an executive order aimed at narrowing the social media companies’ protections from liability over the content posted on their services.
Amid the mounting protests in Minneapolis CNN aired live footage of one of its teams which included a black reporter being arrested by local police covering the disturbances. “A black reporter from CNN was arrested while legally covering the protests in Minneapolis,” the news organisation tweeted. “A white reporter also on the ground was not.”