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MSNBC reporter downplays Minneapolis riots as fire rages behind him: 'Mostly a protest'

"Not, generally speaking, unruly."

Image source: Twitter MSNBC video screenshot

MSNBC was ridiculed online after one of its reporters attempted to downplay the riots in Minneapolis on Thursday night. MSNBC host and reporter Ali Velshi was criticized for saying that the riots were "mostly a protest," despite a large fire raging behind him.

Velshi was reporting live from Minneapolis, a city that has experienced massive destruction this week because of the riots. St. Paul police said that as of Thursday, more than 170 businesses were damaged or looted, and dozens of buildings were set on fire.

With a building burning in the background, Velshi attempted to mitigate the situation.

"I want to be clear on how I characterize this," Velshi said during his report. "This is mostly a protest. It is not generally speaking unruly."

MSNBC's Ali Velshi Downplays Riot In Front Of Burning Building: "Mostly A Protest," www.youtube.com

"This several block area that I am in right now is out of control," Velshi also said. "It is not in the control of the authorities. It is not in the control of the police. It is not in the control of the government, and not the National Guard. Right now, no government authority, no authority whatsoever has control over this area. The people have control over this area, and this is what's happening."

There were peaceful demonstrations in Minneapolis at times this week, to protest the death of George Floyd, who was in police custody when he died. However, things turned especially violent on Thursday night when rioters stormed the 3rd Precinct police station, ransacked the building, and then set it on fire. Cops were forced to flee the police station.

Protesters Take Minneapolis Police Precinct Building During Third Night Of George Floyd Protests www.youtube.com

After several nights of riots that cost millions of dollars in damages, Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state's National Guard on Thursday.

The devastation has gotten so destructive that President Donald Trump proposed the idea of sending the National Guard to quell the violence.

"I can't stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership," President Trump tweeted early Friday morning. "Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right."

This isn't the first time that MSNBC has understated the severity of the Minneapolis riots. Craig Melvin, MSNBC host and co-anchor of "Today," revealed how the network will frame its reporting on the tense situation in Minneapolis.

"This will guide our reporting in MN. 'While the situation on the ground in Minneapolis is fluid, and there has been violence, it is most accurate at this time to describe what is happening there as 'protests' — not riots,'" Melvin tweeted on Thursday morning.

Here is some of the destruction in Minneapolis resulting from the riots.

More Unrest Rocks Minneapolis And Other Cities In Wake Of George Floyd's Death | TODAY www.youtube.com


Drone video of widespread damage following fires, riots in Minneapolis www.youtube.com

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