Donald Trump has attacked who he called “thugs” in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a third night of violent protests over the death of an unarmed black man in custody.
Demonstrators set fire to a police station as anger mounted after George Floyd died on Monday.
In a tweet about the latest unrest, the president said he could not “stand back and watch this happen to a great American city”.
Video shows officer kneeling on man who later died
He claimed there had been “a total lack of leadership” among the authorities as the violence intensified.
He said: “Either the very weak radical left mayor, Jacob Frey, gets his act together and brings the city under control, or I will send in the National Guard and get the job done right.
“These thugs are dishonouring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
Image: Protesters set fire to the entrance of a police station during a third night of violence
Mr Floyd died after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, was filmed kneeling on his neck while he was handcuffed, for at least eight minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a fake $20 note in a shop.
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The 46-year-old can be heard in the widely-circulated mobile phone footage saying he could not breathe, before paramedics are seen lifting him on to a stretcher and into an ambulance – he was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Redacted bodycam video of arrest death
On Thursday evening, cheering protesters broke into a police precinct after the department abandoned it, setting it on fire and letting off fireworks, as violence spread across the US over his death.
A police spokesman confirmed that staff had evacuated the 3rd precinct station – which covers the area of Minneapolis where Mr Floyd was detained – “in the interest of the safety of our personnel”.
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Video streamed live online showed people entering the 3rd precinct building, where fire alarms went off and sprinklers came on as blazes were set.
The city’s governor, Tim Waltz, called in the National Guard – which tweeted that it had activated more than 500 soldiers across the area.
It said a “key objective” was to make sure fire departments could respond to calls, and in a follow-up post, it said it was “here with the Minneapolis Fire Department” to assist – but no move was made to put out the fire.
Image: A man moves past a car on fire near a Target store during protests
Earlier, businesses across the Twin Cities area boarded up their windows and doors in an effort to prevent looting, with Target announcing it was temporarily closing two dozen stores.
At one stage, police officers stood in line in front of a branch, trying to keep out looters, who were also smashing windows of other shops.
Protests have spread to other US cities, with demonstrators in New York defying coronavirus rules against public gatherings as they clashed with police, while some blocked traffic in downtown Denver.
Multiple arrests at NYC protest clashes
Demonstrations have also been seen on the streets of Los Angeles and Memphis.
Meanwhile, in Louisville, Kentucky, at least seven people have been shot during protests against the killing of Breonna Taylor, a black woman fatally shot by police in her home in March.
In a statement early on Friday, police confirmed at least one person was in a critical condition, and said there had been “some arrests”, but did not say how many.
“No officers discharged their service weapons,” said police spokesman Sergeant Lamont Washington.
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The 26-year-old emergency medical technician (EMT), was shot eight times on 13 March in her home after drugs detectives knocked down her front door. No drugs were found inside.
Source : Sky News