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Minneapolis mayor ordered evacuation of 3rd Precinct due to 'imminent' threat

The police station was evacuated around 10 p.m. Thursday.
Protesters outside the burning 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis. 

Protesters outside the burning 3rd Precinct in Minneapolis. 

Daylight on Friday morning has revealed the extent of the damage caused by further unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Protesters celebrated late Thursday night after the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct was evacuated, then breached by a large crowd outside. Mayor Jacob Frey, at a middle-of-the-night press conference, said he ordered the evacuation due to an "imminent" threat of danger. 

"The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life of our officers or the public. Could not risk serious injury to anyone," Frey said. 

As the 3rd Precinct burned, the City of Minneapolis issued a message on social media saying it had received unconfirmed reports of gas lines being cut at the building, in addition to possible explosives inside the police station, then urging anyone in the area to "PLEASE RETREAT in the event the building explodes." 

When asked why so many businesses were allowed to burn and be damaged during the riot, Frey said "The decision comes down to public safety, period." The mayor also noted that police and fire crews were scattered throughout the city, making it difficult to protect everything. 

It's unclear at this point how many buildings and structures burned in the latest rioting in Minneapolis, but riots that spread to St. Paul Thursday resulted in dozens of fires and at least 170 businesses damaged or looted. 

"What we have seen in the past several hours and the past several nights in terms of looting is unacceptable," said Frey. "Our communities cannot and will not tolerate it." 

The National Guard deployed more than 500 troops but was not widely seen in the city Thursday night, though the Guard said it will help protect property and preserve life while making sure firefighters can safely put out fires. 

Frey said the National Guard was being stationed at essential businesses to help prevent looting, namely at grocery stores, banks and pharmacies. 

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"We are doing everything that we absolutely can to keep the peace," Frey said. "This is one of the most difficult situations that our city has been through." 

President Trump threatened to take over control if Frey, whom he called a "Radical Left Mayor," doesn't "get his act together and bring the City under control." Trump then tweeted that he spoke with Gov. Tim Walz and that he can provide military support. 

"Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts," President Trump wrote, which has led to Twitter flagging the tweet for "glorifying violence." 

"Weakness is pointing the finger at someone else during a time of crisis. Donald J. Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell, and you better be damn sure we're going to get through this," Frey said while pounding his fist on the podium. 

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