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Morning Hot Dish

Gov. Walz to speak at 10:30

By Briana Bierschbach
Good morning. 
A police precinct burned in Minneapolis last night, the stunning climax of three days of unrest that left dozens more businesses vandalized, looted and some burned to the ground. The mood was celebratory at the 3rd Precinct after midnight, where activists shot fireworks at the building and said the scene that unfolded was the inevitable culmination of decades of segregation and police violence against black people. 

Those watching from home on the news or their social media feeds were left stunned by the developments and wondering: how did this happen? Videos showed law enforcement who were inside the precinct bust through a back fence and flee from the building. Outside, protesters said there was no law enforcement in sight. The City of Minneapolis tweeted that they were worried the building could explode.

Looting and other acts of destruction, meanwhile, had already spread to St. Paul earlier in the day. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter told WCCO Radio this morning that such acts were "taking a devastating toll on our neighborhoods.”

“As passionate as we are, as angry as we are… destroying our local grocery stores and pharmacies, the places where in the middle of a food crisis our families need to get groceries, the places where in the middle of a pandemic our seniors need to get their medicine, that does not honor his memory, that does not help us build a better future," he said.

The air in South Minneapolis remains thick with smoke this morning.

Local and state officials were initially silent on Twitter while President Trump tweeted that if they didn't take action, he would. A second tweet, quoting a 1960s era Miami police chief who said, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," was stamped with a content warning by Twitter. The company said the President's tweet violated their rules about "glorifying violence." 

Mayor Jacob Frey held a 1 a.m. press conference and said the call to evacuate the precinct was his. Gov. Tim Walz has a press conference scheduled at 10:30 a.m., but he hasn't made any public statements since yesterday, when he called up the National Guard to help. 

As things escalated, a frustrated chorus of legislators weighed in as the situation unfolded last night, including House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who tweeted:

"The county attorney needs to file charges and the officers must be arrested as soon as possible. The case must be won, and legal standards met in order to get a conviction, but we need to have a clear statement that a murder trial is coming. Now."

It seemed to be in response, in part, to a press conference with the U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman earlier in the day, which was criticized for starting two hours late and offering no new information. Freeman had to clarify some of the statements he made during the press conference.  

To cap everything off, early this morning a CNN reporter and crew were arrested by state troopers while covering the aftermath of last night's protests. They have been released and Walz said it was inadvertent, according to a statement read on CNN, but expect him to be grilled about why a group of journalists were arrested on live television this morning. 

So what's next? Attorney General Keith Ellisonsaid on CNN he expects charges soon against the officers involved in George Floyd's death, but he offered no timeline.

Walz is set to address the press at 10:30, with a news conference that will stream live on his YouTube page. Attorneys representing Floyd's family, meanwhile, will hold a news conference of their own this morning. 

Protests are popping up across the nation. Here in Minneapolis, firefighters continued to try to put out burning buildings this morning. The National Guard and police have cleared the stretch of Lake Street  that was an epicenter of unrest and are now creating a perimeter around the area. More demonstrations here were expected through the weekend.

We'll have live coverage of these updates and more on StarTribune.com all day. Feel free to send your thoughts, observations and questions our way:  hotdish@startribune.com.

Thanks for reading and stay safe.
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