Minnesota officials say outsiders are hijacking protests and ‘attacking civil society’

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DENVER, CO – MAY 29: Police officers fire tear gas at protesters near the Colorado state capitol during a protest on May 29, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. This was the second day of protests in Denver, with more demonstrations planned for the weekend. Demonstrations are being held across the US after George Floyd died in police custody on May 25th in Minneapolis, Minnesota.(Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (CNN) — State and local officials on Saturday said violence in Minneapolis was being fueled by outsiders who, according to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, are “attacking civil society (and) instilling fear and disrupting our great cities” rather than demanding justice for the death of George Floyd.

“The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a news conference Saturday with the governor and the mayor of neighboring St. Paul. “They are coming in largely from outside of the city, from outside of the region to prey on everything that we have built over the last several decades.”

The comments by officials came after a breathtaking night of protests in cities across the country, sparked in part by the death of Floyd, who was unarmed and handcuffed, while in Minneapolis police custody. The former officer seen in a video kneeling on the 46-year-old black man’s Floyd’s neck was arrest and charged in his death on Friday.

Walz said Saturday he would “fully mobilize the National Guard” after protests Friday night.

“Nothing we do to provide justice” for Floyd “matter(s) to any of these people who are out here firing upon the National Guard, burning” businesses and “disrupting civil life,” Walz said.

Walz and the mayors said vandals are largely nonresidents of the cities with no interest in Floyd’s death. The state’s “communities of color … were out fighting hand in hand,” he said, to try to save businesses, some that took generations to build, that were under attack.

The governor said he understands that “Minnesotans’ … inability to deal with inequality” and racism catalyzed the protests — but he said rough estimates indicate only 20% of protesters there are Minnesotans.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said there were “those among us who would seek to use” George Floyd’s death as an excuse to “agitate for the destruction of those same communities that have been most traumatized by George Floyd’s death.”

According to Carter, everyone arrested in St. Paul on Friday night was from out of state, adding, “What we are seeing right now is a group of people who are not from here.”

Assertions about outside agitators come partly from data about who has been arrested, as well as information from fliers and online postings, according to state public safety commissioner John Harrington, who said authorities had “seen things like white supremacists organizers” who had posted online about going to Minnesota.

Officials did not provide further details about who exactly was fueling the unrest and where they were from. Harrington said he hoped to release more information later Saturday.

Meantime, US Attorney General William Barr on Saturday said the “voices of peaceful protest are being hijacked by violent radical elements” pursuing “their own separate and violent agenda.”

Without citing evidence, the attorney general said that in many places “it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far-left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom traveled from outside the state to promote the violence.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman later said the information underpinning Barr’s assertion came from state and local law enforcement.

Anger boiled over Friday in more than 30 cities, with some protesters smashing windows, setting vehicles ablaze, blocking traffic on highways and clashing with police.

In Minneapolis, where an officer seen on video with his knee on Floyd’s neck was arrested Friday, some protesters knelt under a bridge and prayed. Others tossed rocks at officers who fired rubber bullets in return. At a protest in Detroit, one person was shot dead. And in Springfield, Massachusetts, hundreds gathered peacefully.

“If you can tell me something better for me to do — if you can tell me a way that we could change the world without trying to make noise like that, then I’ll get out of the streets,” Max Bailey, 22, said at the protests in Denver.

A nation cooped up for weeks over coronavirus restrictions and suffering from resulting job losses now sees throngs of people demonstrating in streets, unleashing powerful emotion in part over the recent deaths of Floyd and other unarmed black Americans.

In Oakland, California, one Federal Protective Service officer was killed and other injured Friday in a shooting at the downtown federal building during protests in the city, police said. Details about what led to the shooting weren’t immediately available.

Live updates: Protests spread nationwide

Key developments

• City curfews: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock instituted a citywide curfew beginning Saturday at 8 p.m. MT that will remain in effect through Monday. Milwaukee will institute a curfew Saturday night beginning at 9 p.m. CT, Mayor Tom Barrett said, and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced a curfew from 10 p.m. ET to 6 a.m. this weekend.

• Teen shot: Detroit police could not confirm whether the 19-year-old killed was part of the protests, but they said the shooting happened downtown where the rallies were taking place. A police captain was struck with a rock during the protests.

• Clashes and arrests: More than 500 people were arrested in Friday night’s protests in Los Angeles, police said. New York City police have made more than 200 arrests connected to protests, and more than a dozen officers have been serious hurt, according to a senior NYPD source. In Houston, nearly 200 people were arrested and most will be charged with obstructing a roadway, police said.

• Unrest in Kentucky and Georgia: Gov. Andy Beshear said Saturday he activated the National Guard to help keep the peace in Louisville, which has seen protests over the March death of Breonna Taylor. Protests have started peacefully, but “our intelligence says … outside groups” are moving in, Beshear said. Additionally, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced he was authorizing as many as 1,500 National Guard troops in the city to “maintain order and address hotspots of illegal activity.”

• Pleas for peace: In Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson implored people destroying property to stop. In Portland, Oregon, police dispersed protesters with tear gas, saying there was extensive property damage. “Enough,” Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted.

 Officers injured: Six police officers were injured during protests in Los Angeles. The LAPD declared downtown protests an unlawful assembly and said anyone who disobeys the order will be arrested.

Military police told to prepare for deployment

Military police units from three Army bases have received prepare-to-deploy orders in case Walz, the Minnesota governor, asks for that kind of help, a defense official told CNN.

Those installations are Fort Riley in Kansas; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; and Fort Drum in New York, the official said.

Walz said Saturday he spoke with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper to inquire about possible federal assistance. A defense official with knowledge of current planning told CNN that Walz has said he didn’t need federal troops at this point.

As for Walz activating the Minnesota National Guard: With 1,700 personnel, this will be the first full mobilization of Minnesota’s National Guard since World War II, the unit and Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen said.

Protests across the nation

Though protesters called out similar chants for justice, the demonstrations played out differently in each city.

The epicenter of the demonstrations was Minneapolis, where officers stood on top of a precinct armed with nonlethal deterrents as a man in the crowd of protesters tried to climb the gate. When fires moved from the precinct to dumpsters and residential streets, more than 350 troops were deployed to control the groups.

Minneapolis and St. Paul were under a curfew after looting and arson broke out during days of protests. But hundreds took to the streets as police fired tear gas and protesters hid behind cars.

“It’s about time this police brutality has to stop. I don’t agree with breaking into all of the businesses, but I can understand the outrage after REPEATED incidents,” Mackenzie Slagle said of protests in Oakland. “Because I’m a white woman, and I needed to show up for all my brothers and sisters.”

In Atlanta, a day of protests began peacefully but turned violent when a crowd set fire to a police car and smashed the windows of a defaced CNN Center.

“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said.

“Killer” was scrawled across a damaged police car in Los Angeles where protesters lined up along a freeway to block traffic. At least two officers were injured over the course of the night, said the LAPD.

In Washington, the White House was briefly locked down Friday as protesters moved toward it. For hours overnight, protesters confronted officers, including those from the Secret Service, throwing bottles at them, removing metal barriers and pushing against officers’ riot shields. Officers responded at least once by spraying pepper spray.

In San Jose, California, protesters blocked a highway and smashed windows of at least one stopped vehicle, video from CNN affiliate KGO shows. Demonstrators stopped traffic on an Interstate 43 ramp in Milwaukee, CNN affiliate WISN reported.

Protesters in Boston chanted, “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” Friday outside a police precinct building.

Bail is set for the officer arrested

The bail for Derek Chauvin, the former officer charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, was set at $500,000.

Chauvin, who is white, and three other officers detained Floyd, who was black, in handcuffs Monday after he allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a convenience store. Outrage grew after a video surfaced showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd, 46, cried out that he couldn’t breathe.

Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for a total of 8 minutes, 46 seconds, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday. Charges against the other three officers are likely, authorities said.

All four officers were fired this week after Floyd’s death.

Floyd’s family is upsetthat Chauvinwasn’t charged with a more serious offense, their attorney Benjamin Crump said.

“We expected a first-degree murder charge. We want a first-degree murder charge. And we want to see the other officers arrested,” the family said in a statement.

If convicted of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, Chauvin faces 25 years in prison on the first charge and up to 10 years on the second.

Chauvin’s wife has filed for divorce, according to a statement on her behalf by a Minneapolis law firm.

Video shows 3 officers kneeling on George Floyd

New video posted on social media, meanwhile, appears to show three Minneapolis police officers — not just Chauvin — kneeling on George Floyd during his arrest. CNN has not been able to locate the person who shot the footage.

The new video shows the other side of the Minneapolis police vehicle — the side opposite shown in initially shared images.

“I can’t breathe, man,” Floyd can be heard saying in the new video. “Please, let me stand. Please, man.”

Minneapolis police had said Floyd “physically resisted” the officers. Surveillance footage from a nearby restaurant does not appear to support the claim that he resisted arrest during the initial encounter. However, there are several minutes when Floyd’s and the officers’ interactions cannot be seen from that camera’s vantage point.

The new video showing three officers apparently kneeling on Floyd seems to have been taken some time after the restaurant surveillance video.

Autopsy lists several factors

A preliminary autopsy said the combined effects of Floyd being restrained, potential intoxicants in his system and underlying health issues, including heart disease, contributed to his death.

It said there was no physical findings to support strangulation as the cause of death.

Read the criminal complaint

The absence of physical evidence doesn’t necessarily mean Floyd didn’t die from asphyxiation, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta cautioned.

Gupta also said an officer should have started CPR after one of them told the others he couldn’t find a pulse.

CNN has reached out to the former officer’s attorney and the Minneapolis police union for comment.

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