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PHOTOS: Protests Over George Floyd's Death Escalate Into Violence, Destruction

Protesters hold their hands up as they cry from tear gas during a demonstration in a call for justice for George Floyd following his death, outside a police precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Protesters hold their hands up as they cry from tear gas during a demonstration in a call for justice for George Floyd following his death, outside a police precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Outrage, frustration and grief are driving hundreds of protesters into the streets of Minneapolis, Los Angeles and St. Paul, Minn., after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose arresting officer was recorded kneeling on his neck for minutes on end.

Over the past few days demonstrations in Minnesota have evolved from peaceful cries for justice into violence and destruction.

Floyd's arrest and final minutes of his life were captured in multiple videos that are circulating widely on social media. In all versions, Floyd is pinned to the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back. The knee of a police officer is crushing his neck, as another officer stands a few feet away. He is watching, seeming unfazed as the 46-year-old cries, "I can't breathe."

Angry crowds have looted businesses and burned buildings. Meanwhile, law enforcement has met the civil disorder with clouds of tear gas.

Protesters call for justice for George Floyd following his death, outside a police precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images
Protesters call for justice for George Floyd following his death, outside a police precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

The unrest prompted Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to activate the National Guard on Thursday to bring calm to the streets.

"It is how we express pain, process tragedy and create change," he said about the act of protesting.

But he noted the urgency in responding to local leaders' calls for the National Guard "to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors and small businesses in Minnesota."

"It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they're charged to protect," Walz added.

Protesters use shopping carts as a barricade as they confront police near a police precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Stephen Maturen / Getty Images
Protesters use shopping carts as a barricade as they confront police near a police precinct on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

A police officer holds a projectile launcher during a demonstration in a call for justice for George Floyd following his death.
Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images
A police officer holds a projectile launcher during a demonstration in a call for justice for George Floyd following his death.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added that the purpose of the National Guard is to ensure safe demonstrations and to protect small-business owners.

"The anger and grief of this moment is unbearable. People deserve to be seen. People deserve to be heard. People deserve to be safe," Flanagan said.

"While many Minnesotans are taking extensive safety precautions while exercising their right to protest, the demonstration last night became incredibly unsafe for all involved," she added.

People look on as a construction site burns in a large fire on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Stephen Maturen / Getty Images
People look on as a construction site burns in a large fire on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

A man carries items past a burned Auto Zone store in Minneapolis on Thursday after a night of rioting and looting as protests continue over the death of George Floyd.
Jim Mone / AP
A man carries items past a burned Auto Zone store in Minneapolis on Thursday after a night of rioting and looting as protests continue over the death of George Floyd.

Shawanda Hill (center), the girlfriend of George Floyd, reacts near the spot where he died.
Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images
Shawanda Hill (center), the girlfriend of George Floyd, reacts near the spot where he died.

In all, four officers were involved in Floyd's death. All have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department.

Several investigations into their actions have been launched, but as of Thursday, no charges have been filed.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A man faces a row of police holding a burnt, upside-down U.S. flag as protesters gather in downtown Los Angeles.
Agustin Paullier / AFP via Getty Images
A man faces a row of police holding a burnt, upside-down U.S. flag as protesters gather in downtown Los Angeles.

Demonstrators march during a protest of the death of George Floyd in downtown Los Angeles.
Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP
Demonstrators march during a protest of the death of George Floyd in downtown Los Angeles.