MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi claimed the Minneapolis riots were “not, generally speaking, unruly” Thursday as the building behind him was engulfed in flames.
Velshi was reporting live from Minnesota after protests turned to rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd, 46, died after being arrested by police for an alleged forgery. Video footage shows that one police officer stepped on Floyd’s neck for several minutes, despite the man crying for help and bystanders begging the officer to get off.
During the third day of increasingly unruly riots, Velshi began by claiming the scene “looked a lot calmer than yesterday” throughout much of the day. The journalist then said there were “four fires” burning nearby – with one directly behind him – before claiming that the riots were just peaceful protests.
“I want to be clear on how I characterize this,” Velshi said in front of a burning building. “This is mostly a protest. It is not, generally speaking, unruly but fires have been started and this crowd is relishing that.” (RELATED: CNN Correspondent Arrested Live On-Air During Minneapolis Riots)
The network is not framing its reporting using the word “riots,” MSNBC host Craig Melvin tweeted Thursday.
“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 wrote.
Thursday evening saw rioters light the 3rd Police Precinct on fire as officers evacuated the premises. Townhall reporter Julio Rosas expressed shock at the scene Thursday evening, noting that it was not comparable to other previous protests.
“I’ve covered many protests/riots in my short time working in the media and I can say none of them (Charlottesville, D.C., Portland) comes close to what I’m seeing in Minneapolis right now,” Rosas reported.