Minnesota’s governor activates all National Guard troops.
Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota said on Saturday that he was activating thousands of National Guard troops to suppress protesters in Minneapolis who turned out in droves for the fourth night in a row on Friday, burning buildings to the ground, firing guns near the police and overwhelming officers.
“Our goal is to decimate that force as quickly as possible,” Mr. Walz said of the rioters who have been causing the damage, a group that he said was different from demonstrators who protested against police brutality after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned down by a white officer. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with murder on Friday.
The move by Mr. Walz to activate all of the state’s available Guard troops — up to 13,200 — comes after protesters defied a newly imposed curfew on Friday night and set a string of businesses on fire, including a bank, a restaurant and a gas station.
Commissioner John Harrington of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said that there had been “tens of thousands” of people in the streets, more than any other night since Mr. Floyd’s death on Monday set off a wave of protests across the country that have become increasingly destructive.
Mr. Walz compared the havoc the protesters had wrought on Minneapolis to wars that Americans have fought overseas, and said he expected even more unrest on Saturday night.
“What you’ve seen in previous nights, I think, will be dwarfed by what they will do tonight,” he said.
More law enforcement officers will be patrolling the streets in Minneapolis and St. Paul than ever before, officials said. Mr. Walz also said he would not rule out requesting a few hundred additional troops from the federal government.
At the orders of President Trump, the Defense Department has ordered the Army to prepare active-duty military police units to deploy from several army bases to Minneapolis.
Minnesota officials said it appeared that some of the more violent protesters were from out of the state. The people who defied the curfew on Friday had launched fireworks at police officers, set cars and buildings ablaze and forced Guard troops to retreat at one point, before they returned to clear people away from the Police Department’s Fifth Precinct.
Mr. Harrington, the state’s public safety commissioner, said officials had thought the protests might smolder after Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was shown on a cellphone video kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck as he lost consciousness, was charged with third-degree murder. But they have only gotten worse.
The police began arresting protesters shortly before midnight, when they convened at the Fifth Precinct the day after they had taken over the Third Precinct and set it on fire. Unlike Thursday, the police did not flee from the building.
Even as most demonstrators left the streets early on Saturday morning, the fires continued to rage, leaving a trail of battered local businesses and hollowed out vehicles.
Rallies expanded far beyond Minneapolis on Friday, with protesters destroying police vehicles in Atlanta and New York, and blocking major streets in San Jose and Detroit. Crowds in Milwaukee chanted, “I can’t breathe” and demonstrators in Portland, Ore., lit a fire inside the Multnomah County Justice Center.
Hundreds of demonstrators poured into the streets near Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, smashing windows and clashing with police officers. Not far away, some people climbed atop a large red CNN sign outside the media company’s headquarters and spray-painted messages on it. Others shattered windows at the College Football Hall of Fame, where people rushed in and emerged with branded fan gear.
“What are you changing by tearing up a city?” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a news conference. “You’ve lost all credibility now. This is not how we change America. This is not how we change the world.”
In New York, thousands of people attended a demonstration at the perimeter of Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Some hurled bottles and debris at police officers, who responded with pepper spray.
A burned police van was still smoking near Fort Greene Park after two Fire Department trucks pulled away. Protesters slammed its doors off their hinges, threw fireworks into the charred seats, flattened the tires and placed a sign down that read, “Black Lives Matter.”
“I’m just really tired of sitting at home and just doing nothing, basically watching this happen,” said Jason Phillips, 27, of Queens, who was at an earlier protest in Manhattan. “I need to be a part of history. I need to be a part of the change.”
Minnesota’s top officials acknowledged early Saturday morning that they had underestimated the destruction that protesters in Minneapolis were capable of inflicting as a newly issued curfew did little to stop people from burning buildings and turning the city’s streets into a smoky battleground.
“Quite candidly, right now, we do not have the numbers,” Mr. Walz said. “We cannot arrest people when we’re trying to hold ground because of the sheer size, the dynamics and the wanton violence that’s coming out there.”
Politicians and the police had not expected the protests to grow for a fourth night on Friday, after a police officer was charged with third-degree murder and a curfew went into effect at 8 p.m. But grow they did, and law enforcement officers struggled to hold their ground, with National Guard troops retreating from angry protesters at one point.
“There’s simply more of them than us” Mr. Walz said of the protesters.
The governor vowed that more Guard troops would be deployed and that the authorities would not let the destruction continue. Even so, state officials did not show much optimism that the demonstrations would stop, and Mr. Walz did not rule out the possibility of bringing in the U.S. military.
“You’re not getting back at the police officer that tragically killed George Floyd by looting a town,” Mr. Frey said. “You’re not getting back at anybody.”
In the year before George Floyd and the police officer now charged with his death, Derek Chauvin, encountered each other on a Minneapolis street, they had worked at the same Latin nightclub. But it was the minutes leading up to Mr. Floyd’s death, as he was pinned on the ground, that the authorities are racing to understand.
In a move that has since prompted protests in cities across the country, Mr. Chauvin knelt down on Mr. Floyd behind a police vehicle outside the store. For eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to a criminal complaint filed on Friday by the Hennepin County attorney, the police officer pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck in silence, staring toward the ground as his captive gasped repeatedly that he could not breathe.
Bystanders waved their cellphones, cursed and pleaded for help, and still, for two minutes and 53 seconds after Mr. Floyd had stopped protesting and became unresponsive, the officer continued to kneel.
The fatal encounter began just before 8 p.m. on Monday, when Mr. Floyd entered Cup Foods and a store clerk claimed that he had paid for cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. In the minutes that followed, Mr. Floyd found himself on the ground, beneath the officer’s knee. He called, records say, for his mother. He said, “Please.”
One of the officers dismissed his pleas that he could not breathe.
“You are talking fine,” one officer said, according to the charging documents.
At least one officer was worried: That officer asked if they should roll Mr. Floyd over on his side.
“No, staying put where we got him,” Mr. Chauvin replied.
At 8:24 p.m., Mr. Floyd stopped moving.
Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Audra D.S. Burch, Helene Cooper, Manny Fernandez, Thomas Fuller, Matt Furber, Shawn Hubler, Neil MacFarquhar and Frances Robles.