George Floyd protests: Trump puts army on alert to deploy military police to streets of Minneapolis

Minnesota governor deploys 1,000 National Guard service members as protests continue

Alex Woodward
New York
Saturday 30 May 2020 11:25 BST
Minneapolis police station set on fire in George Floyd riots

US Department of Defence officials have ordered active-duty military police to "prepare to deploy" to Minneapolis in the wake of protests and unrest across the US following the police killing of George Floyd.

Donald Trump ordered Defence Secretary Mark Esper to ready units for rapid deployment on Friday, according to reports, as the president increasingly threatens demonstrators with violence and use of force as protests continue.

National Guard service members already have been deployed to Minneapolis after police clashes and buildings were set ablaze, including a police precinct, amid growing protests demanding justice for Mr Floyd, one of the most recent black men to die in police custody and whose death has galvanised calls for sweeping reforms and unleashed furious protests in cities across the US.

Military police units were deployed to Los Angeles in 1992 during riots that following the acquittal of four police officers involved in Rodney King's beating.

Minnesota's governor intends to fully activate the National Guard in the state for the first time in its history as he warned that accelerationist white supremacists are beginning to seize on to the protests.

More than 1,000 additional service members were activated on Saturday, supplementing 700 service members already on duty, according to the state's National Guard.

Tim Walz said the ongoing protests are no longer about Mr Floyd's death but are "about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities", he said.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, four days after video captured the killing of Mr Floyd and Mr Chauvin's knee digging into his neck for several minutes while Mr Floyd was pinned to the ground.

Investigations are pending against three other officers who have also been dismissed from the force, while the Hennepin County attorney's office has focussed on pursuing "the most dangerous perpetrator", county attorney Mike Freeman said on Friday.

A detailed criminal complaint reveals that Mr Chauvin had his knee on Mr Floyd's neck for nearly three minutes after Mr Floyd was "non-responsive". Mr Chauvin was kneeling on Mr Floyd for nearly nine minutes.

Prosecutors said that "police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous".

Mr Floyd called out "I can't breathe", "mama", and "please".

"None of the three officers moved from their positions," prosecutors said.

A preliminary medical report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner found "no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation" and claimed that "underlying health conditions ... likely contributed to his death" despite widely shared footage of Mr Chauvin's knee forced against Mr Floyd. The claim incensed protesters who have accused prosecutors and officials of downplaying Mr Floyd's death.

Furious protests continued in the city on Friday as buildings were set ablaze and vandalised.

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