The Minneapolis Police Department has pulled its officers away from several locations in the city after protests over the death of George Floyd erupted in violence, looting, and vandalism on Wednesday night.
As a Target store, a liquor store, and an AutoZone were all overcome by looters, a KARE-TV reporter noted to Police Chief Medaria Arradondo that there was no police presence at the locations during an evening interview. Arradondo explained, “Our main priority for our officers there are the safety of those who are out there.”
The chief noted that there were peaceful protesters who were “in the mix of those who are causing destruction” and said the MPD wanted to make sure they had the resources in place to protect the peaceful protesters and to preserve “life and safety.”
The KARE reported then asked, while showing footage of the looting at Target, “I want to make sure I’m understanding you correctly. So, what you’re saying is it’s too dangerous for police to directly confront the looters, so, you’ve made the decision to maybe let that site go for now and focus on keeping the rest of the neighborhood as safe as possible?”
“Absolutely,” Arradondo replied, adding that his officers have had “Molotov cocktails thrown at them, rocks, and other projectiles. And so, obviously, their safety is paramount. So, I don’t want them going into an area where they’re at risk of harm themselves.”
The Minneapolis chief of police basically telling officers it’s too dangerous to go stop any of this looting. Gonna be a long night pic.twitter.com/HTJZxAp4gN
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) May 28, 2020
The Target store was overrun, and footage online showed shelves stripped bare, with reports of looters “using power tools to open cash registers.”
MINNEAPOLIS: Reports of fires in almost empty Target store; witnesses say people are using power tools to open cash registers, break into offices seeking safes
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) May 28, 2020
As the evening wore on, the AutoZone in the third precinct was set on fire, and a reporter from the Minnesota Reformer noted that police arrived at the scene “to help secure [the] perimeter” for firefighters.
The Auto Zone is on Fire pic.twitter.com/2IJHx4AKdt
— Ricardo Lopez (@rljourno) May 28, 2020
Police were also seen being attacked by protesters in footage taken earlier in the day: