The violent protests that have laid waste to parts of the US city of Minneapolis featured a bizarre incident where a woman in a wheelchair was set upon by protesters.

Video of the woman being punched in the head and sprayed with a fire extinguisher sparked outrage amongst US conservatives, before allegations surfaced that the woman was armed with a knife and had stabbed protesters before she was attacked.

"I was peacefully protesting. They attacked me from the front and back," the woman, identified as Jennifer, claimed.

"They punched me in the mouth, my head … I got punched in the head several times. I got grabbed from behind … They stole my keys. They stole everything they could off of me. I got maced in the face, I got covered in fire extinguisher."

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Videos of the incident circulating online, revealed a chaotic scene.

"Jennifer, is that enough?" one rioter yells, as the woman takes repeated blows.

In other videos, the crowd can be heard shouting that the woman was armed with a knife, with protesters claiming she was "stabbing people".

The video shows 'Jennifer' taking a blast from a fire extinguisher directly to the face as some in the crowd shout "leave her alone".

"Jennifer" later refused to leave the scene, appearing determined to face off against protesters

"I'm trying to block traffic so they don't go down that way," she said in a video posted online.

"I've been involved with the cops before. We're cool."

The story got more bizarre when video emerged showing "Jennifer" getting out of her wheelchair and walking.

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"The weirdest part is….she can walk just fine?!?" user Daniel Bostic said on Twitter.

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Violent protests over the death of George Floyd rocked Minneapolis for a second straight night as angry crowds looted stores, set fires and left a path of damage that stretched for kilometres. The mayor asked the governor to activate the National Guard.

The protests that began late Wednesday and stretched into Thursday morning were the most destructive yet since the death of George Floyd, who was seen on video gasping for breath during an arrest in which an officer kneeled on his neck for almost eight minutes.

In the footage, Floyd pleads that he cannot breathe and slowly stops talking and moving.

Mayor Jacob Frey sought calm. "Please, Minneapolis, we cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy," he said on Twitter.

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Protests also spread to other US cities. In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd's death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers.

Memphis police blocked a main thoroughfare after a racially mixed group of protesters gathered outside a police precinct. The situation intensified later in the night, with police donning riot gear and protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of officers stationed behind a barricade.

Minneapolis police said the violence contrasted sharply with a mostly peaceful demonstration Tuesday afternoon at the street corner where Floyd died.

"They were chanting for things to remain peaceful," police spokesman John Elder said. "Tonight didn't have the same feel. And that's sad."

-Additional reporting, AP