Radio host Lenard Larry McKelvey, better known as Charlamagne tha God, said that looters were breaking into and stealing from businesses in Minneapolis because people are desperate.
Protests, riots, and looting broke out in the Minnesota city earlier this week over the death of George Floyd, a black man. Video of Floyd being arrested just before his death shows four police officers detaining him as he lay on the ground in handcuffs. One officer has a knee on Floyd’s neck, and Floyd can be heard begging that he “can’t breathe.” After several minutes with the officer’s knee on his neck, Floyd stops moving.
“The Breakfast Club” host said the violent reaction to Floyd’s death is driven in part by a demand for justice but also because people are desperate after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz shut down many businesses in the state to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The shutdown has lasted roughly two months in some places, and people’s finances are running dry.
“We are in a country right now with an unemployment rate at 40 million. The unemployment rate in the black community is at 17 percent,” the radio host told Page Six. “It’s called self-preservation … They do whatever necessary to stay alive … I don’t just see these brothers and sisters taking TVs. I saw a bunch of carts full of groceries, because they probably haven’t had groceries in the refrigerator for months.”
“America had to know that it would come to this,” McKelvey added. “You can’t tell me that America can sit around and be that foolish, like they didn’t see this coming. And guess what — it’s only going to get worse.”
McKelvey said watching video of the officers treatment of Floyd is “infuriating” to him.
“I’m watching CNN, and they kept showing it over and over, and it was absolutely positively infuriating. It just made my anxiety go through the roof,” he said.
The rioting in Minneapolis reached a new level of violence on Thursday night and early Friday morning. Officers abandoned the department’s 3rd Police Precinct, which is located in the heart of the protest zones, allowing rioters and looters to storm inside and set the building on fire. No fire department officials immediately responded to the area, and the precinct was left to burn completely through.
Earlier, the officers had erected barricades to keep protesters away from the police headquarters. Protesters eventually tore the barricades down as Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered the precinct emptied and abandoned.
“I made the decision to evacuate the Third Precinct,” Frey told reporters. “The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers or the public. Brick and mortar is not as important as life.”
The Saint Paul Police Department, located near Minneapolis, tweeted that “dozens of fires” had been set and that “more than 170 businesses” had been damaged or looted during the riots.
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