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Minneapolis police precinct and businesses set on fire as protests over George Floyd's death rage on

Minneapolis police station on fire
Minneapolis police station on fire as protests grow over George Floyd's death 00:31

CBSN Minnesota has live, continuing coverage of protests over George Floyd's death. Download the CBS News app or visit to watch.

Protesters in Minneapolis set fire to the police station where the four officers who were fired after George Floyd's death worked on the third night of increasingly violent protests, Jeff Pegues reports. Other businesses in the area were attacked and looted, even after Minnesota's governor activated the National Guard.

The third precinct is in smoldering remains Friday morning after protesters descended on the building just after 10 p.m., fanning flames and breaking windows. No firefighters arrived overnight to put the fire out. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered police to abandon the third precinct, which has been a focus of anger since the unrest began, as hundreds and then thousands of people gathered around the site. 

Some were throwing rocks and lighting fireworks. Others threw wood and other debris, feeding the fire which burned for hours. 

Frey defended his decision to let the precinct burn.

"The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, our officers or the public," he said. "Brick and mortar is not as important as life."

At the heart of the increasing anger is a lack of charges against the four police officers involved in Floyd' death.

Floyd's arrest was captured in a video now seen by millions around the world, sparking global outrage. It shows Floyd, who is black, laying on the ground with white Officer Derek Chauvin's knee pinning him to the ground as he begged, "I can't breathe." 

Minneapolis police say Chauvin has had 18 complaints against him in his career, but has only faced discipline for two.

Bystanders can be heard in the background imploring Chauvin to get up or for one of the other officers to stop it, but it continued for minutes until Floyd was visibly still. 

Hennepin County attorney Michael Freeman called Floyd's death "senseless," but said he would not rush the state's investigation.

"I'm not questioning whether it was excessive, it was. I just have to prove whether it was criminal," Freeman said in a press conference. 

Earlier protests outside a Target store in nearby St. Paul destroyed the windows of a police vehicle and used shopping carts as weapons, forcing customers inside to evacuate.

Longtime community activist Spike Moss has called for calm and agreed violence does not help, but acknowledged that this is the result of a community without answers.

"It lets you know they are tired," Moss said. "They're tired of being oppressed, being misused, being abused, being murdered at will."

Lexxie Erdahl, who drove an hour to stand with protesters, said she understood the community's outrage.

"I think it sends a message, something as a white person I couldn't fully put into words," she said. "If their only means of a message is this, then I stand with them." 

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