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Minnesota‘s governor pleaded with residents to comply with an 8 p.m. curfew late Friday night as TV and social media images of rioters setting fires and causing other destruction in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area made clear that earlier calls for calm were being ignored.
“The Minnesota National Guard, State Patrol, and local police are on the ground responding to incidents in Mpls-St. Paul,” Gov. Tim Walz posted on Twitter around 11:30 p.m. local time. “I urge residents to comply with 8pm curfew and go home immediately. Law enforcement needs to respond to emergencies, restore order, and keep Minnesotans safe.”
In Minneapolis, a citywide curfew was supposed to be in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday, with another 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew called for Saturday night. Nevertheless, chaotic demonstrations continued Friday night, hours after a fired city police officer was charged in Monday’s death of George Floyd.
Demonstrators were seen on the north side of the city around 9 p.m. CT and crowds were spotted near the police station that had been the center of riots the past two nights. Law enforcement agencies ordered crowds off the streets and fird tear gas in one area before pulling back, FOX 9 of Minneapolis reported.
The area around the police station was closed off, police said. Elsewhere, demonstrators climbed onto the Interstate 35 and blocked several traffic lanes.
An 8 p.m. CT curfew for the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., took effect Friday in an effort to prevent more rioting, vandalism and looting, as similar events raged across the country Friday night.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced the unprecedented measures Friday morning. The curfews bar people from being on the street and all public places from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. First responders, the media, people traveling to and from work and those fleeing danger are among those exempt.
Anyone caught violating the order faces a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in prison. However, when the appointed hour was reached Thursday, dozens of people had congregated in the area of Minneapolis where the worst of the rioting took place.
There was no immediate word of any arrests.
“It’s time to rebuild our community and that starts with safety in our streets,” Walz said. “Thousands of Minnesotans have expressed their grief and frustration in a peaceful manner. But the unlawful and dangerous actions of others, under the cover of darkness, has caused irreversible pain and damage to our community.
“This behavior has compromised the safety of bystanders, businesses, lawful demonstrators, and first responders. Now, we come together to restore the peace,” he added.
Some nearby suburban counties also issued their own curfew orders.
A lone protester sits down by state troopers as they block a street Friday after another night of protests over the death of George Floyd who died in police custody Monday in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The emergency orders follow three nights of destructive protests in the wake of Floyd’s death while in police custody Monday. A viral video showing a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes after he was stopped on a suspected forgery charge has prompted outrage and demonstrations in Minneapolis and other cities.
Floyd repeatedly stated he couldn’t breathe while onlookers begged the officer, identified as Derek Chauvin, to stop. Chauvin and three other officers involved in the incident were fired. Chauvin was arrested and charged Friday with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter.
A man poses for photos in front of a fire at an AutoZone store, while protesters hold a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Wednesday. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)
Walz activated the National Guard on Thursday in an effort to restore calm amid escalating civil unrest. Protesters gathered later that evening and set ablaze a Minneapolis police station, prompting officers inside to evacuate. Soldiers secured the station later that evening, along with the surrounding area.
Businesses across the Twin Cities region boarded up in an effort to prevent vandalism and looting. Looters were spotted at a Target store Wednesday trying to break into cash registers. The retail giant, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, announced it will temporarily close two dozens stores in the region.
A looter uses a claw hammer as he tries to break in to a cash register at a Target store in Minneapolis on Wednesday. Rioters ignited fires and looted stores all over the city, as peaceful protests turned increasingly violent in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
Minneapolis officials have shut down much of the city’s light-rail and bus systems through Sunday to prevent further damage.
President Trump has taken heat for his response to the unrest. On Thursday, he suggested that rioters could be shot, tweeting that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The tweet was later flagged by Twitter for “glorifying violence.”
He sought to clarify what he meant Friday, saying “the looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters.”