DONALD Trump has warned George Floyd “thug” protesters “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” as anger spread across the US.
The President, 73, threatened to “assume control” of the situation in Minneapolis with an armed response as a third night of violence erupted over the death of George Floyd with protests spreading around the country.
Mr Trump also laid into the city’s “weak” Mayor Jacob Frey for what he saw as his failure to tackle the escalating violence.
A police station was stormed by rioter and set alight and city officials fear the building could now explode.
Cops were forced to flee from the city’s Third Police Precinct Thursday night after rioters broke in.
The latest protests were sparked after prosecutors warned there was “evidence that does not support criminal charges” over the four cops accused of killing Floyd.
Frey deployed 500 National Guard soldiers on the streets of the city and neighboring St Paul and declared a state of emergency as violent protests erupted and cars and buildings were set alight.
Protests have also taken place in a number of cities across the US, including New York City and Denver, where footage appeared to show a driver of a black SUV mow down a Black Lives Matter protester.
Other protests have taken place in Ohio and Kentucky as well as Los Angeles.
Mr Trump threatened to take action on Twitter and blasted Frey who he described as a “Radical Left Mayor” saying he needed to get his act together.
He wrote on social media: “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.....,”
He added: “These THUGS are dishonoring 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!”
Mayor Frey though has fired back at the president and said: “Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis.
“Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at someone else during a time of crisis.
“Is this a difficult time period? Yes, but you'd better be damn sure that we're going to get through this.”
Frey said he understood the “pain and anger right now in our city”, but continued “what we have seen over the last several hours and the past couple of nights in terms of looting is unacceptable”.
The mayor revealed he had decided to evacuate the Third Precinct after determining that there were “imminent threats to both officers and public”.
“The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone,” he said. “Brick and mortar is not as important as life.”
Also on Thursday, a crowd of protesters smashed store windows in St. Paul, Minnesota - the day after looting and rioting ravaged pockets of downtown Minneapolis.
Raiders broke into a Target on University Avenue in St. Paul as Gov Tim Walz signed an executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard.
A statement from Walz's office sent to NBC News said the emergency order was necessary after "extensive damage to private property occurred and peaceful protests evolved into a dangerous situation for protesters and first responders".
The demonstrations were in response to disturbing video footage that showed Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck on Monday as the black man pleaded for his life, saying "I can't breathe!"
The 46-year-old was later rushed to a local hospital, where he died.
Several hundred people showed up for the protests, including Erika Atson, who told the Associated Press she had been at every protest since Floyd's death.
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"We don't want to be here fighting against anyone. We don't want anyone to be hurt. We don't want any damages," she said.
"We just want the police officer to be held accountable for his actions."
Officers were pelted with "rocks and bottles" by rioters who also broke into buildings to ransack and destroy property, St. Paul police said on Twitter.
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