(Editor's note: This editorial was updated at 8 a.m. Thursday.)
It was painful to see Minneapolis featured on national and international news shows Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as images of violent protests, arson, tear gas and cops in riot gear were broadcast around the world. In response to the tragic death of an African-American man in Minneapolis police custody, demonstrators took to the streets — in protests that began peacefully but devolved into mayhem.
The unrest continued Wednesday in several locations, with more police-civilian clashes, property damage, and looting at a Lake Street Target and other stores. At least five people were shot overnight, and one was killed.
The violence only deepened the wound Minneapolis has suffered because of George Floyd's death. Floyd, 46, died Monday after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, ignoring his pleas that he couldn't breathe. Cops had been called to a store on Chicago and 38th Street to investigate a report of a man passing a counterfeit bill. As officers were holding Floyd, the scene was captured on video and quickly went viral online.
As Tuesday's protests unfolded, the majority of several thousand demonstrators marched peacefully from the scene of Floyd's arrest to the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct station. But once they arrived, the violence started. Protesters shattered the glass front door of the station and defaced the building. Police vehicles were spray-painted and windshields were smashed. Rocks and water bottles were thrown at officers.
Cops wearing gas masks and full riot gear responded by firing chemical irritants and flash-bang devices. That sent demonstrators running to nearby Target and Arby's, some getting milk to soothe stinging eyes. From the video footage we've seen, it is clear that more restraint was needed from both sides.
Some demonstrators put others at risk by throwing objects and damaging property. But some cops were unnecessarily forceful with protesters who were simply watching.
Wednesday night's protests grew increasingly violent, leaving Mayor Jacob Frey pleading for peace.
Of course, after Floyd's horrible death it's understandable that community members are angry and frustrated by yet another example of a black man losing his life through an encounter with police. Frey shares their outrage. He and his police chief fired all four of the officers involved. On Wednesday, Frey said that the officer who knelt on Floyd should be arrested and charged.
The Black Lives Matter movement, started after Michael Brown was killed in 2014 by police in Ferguson, Mo., was created for good reason. It grew to include people of all races and backgrounds, all fed up with repeated deaths and injuries among people of color at the hands of officers in many cities.
Floyd's death reminded many of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer who attempted to arrest him after he was accused of selling loose cigarettes. He also told officers that he couldn't breathe as they were holding him down on the ground.
And in Falcon Heights in 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by an officer after a traffic stop. Video of that shooting was also seen around the world.
Floyd's racially charged death has reignited tensions between police and minority communities that boiled over in Minneapolis in 2015 after the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark and a weekslong protest outside a nearby police station.
The tragic loss of life has to stop, but violent demonstrations and overly aggressive police responses will not solve the problem. Peaceful protest, thorough and fearless investigation and due process of law for all concerned better honor George Floyd's memory.