May 29, 2020 08:31 UTC

Protesters in the US state of Minnesota set on fire a police station in the city of Minneapolis on Thursday in a third straight night of mass protests to express their fury over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck while he was handcuffed.

According to Press TV, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the National Guard to assist police as city, state and federal law enforcement officials sought to ease racial tensions sparked by Monday’s fatal arrest of 46-year-old Floyd.

More than 500 Guard members were activated and sent to Minneapolis and several surrounding cities. It was the first time the Minnesota National Guard has been activated for a civil disturbance in 34 years.

Four city police officers involved in Floyd’s death, including the one shown pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as he lay on the ground, moaning, “please, I can’t breathe,” were fired from their jobs the next day.

However, prosecutors have not announced charges, asking the people of Minneapolis for patience instead. 

Protests first erupted Tuesday, a day after Floyd's death, as anger over the latest police killing was fueled by uncertainty over the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the US.

Several buildings in Minneapolis were set on fire. The blazes included one at the Third Police Precinct station, the epicenter of the three nights of demonstrations, after crowds of protesters broke in and set fires inside and behind the building.

Fires burned on both sides of the police station as demonstrators pushed down temporary fencing and occupied property at the precinct. Officers fired tear gas from the ground and a rooftop.

In the neighboring city of St. Paul, clouds of smoke hung in the air as police armed with batons and wearing gas masks and body armor patrolled the streets.

Sympathy protests erupted in Los Angeles, California, as well as in Denver, Colorado, with hundreds of demonstrators blocking highway traffic in both cities.

In a bizarre tweet on Thursday, President Donald Trump blamed the protesters and the “total lack of leadership” in Minneapolis. “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,” he said on Twitter.