MINNEAPOLIS - As night fell over Minneapolis Wednesday, tensions between protesters and police rose to a new peak.
Around 6:30 p.m., protesters began surrounding the precinct, continuing chants, demanding justice in the shooting death of Jamar Clark. Police say protesters began throwing rocks, bricks and bottles at officers. Police say officers have been hit, but none have needed medical attention. Shortly before 9 p.m., chemical irritants were deployed, both from officers and protesters.
Police fired at least one "marking round" at someone who they say threw a brick which hit an officer. They say the suspect ran away and has not been arrested.
One protest organizer told KARE 11 those throwing bricks or bottles at officers are not part of the organized protest and that "there are angry people showing up and causing trouble and making the rest of us look bad."
Earlier Wednesday, police personnel removed tents and other equipment belonging to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, moving them away from the building in the process. The first line of officers was quickly followed by SWAT teams that jumped out of vans dressed in camouflage.
More crews then arrived with barricades, apparently to seal off the area. There was some chaos, including one moment when multiple officers chased a man who allegedly threw a bottle at an officer. That man slipped on a wet street and fell in the roadway before being taken into custody.
Police Chief Janee Harteau arrived on the scene, and promptly told demonstrators that anyone not leaving of their own volition would be arrested. Later, she backed off that statement, saying protesters were allowed to peacefully protest in the area but they had to stay away from the entrances to the precinct.
KARE 11 photojournalists captured images of demonstrators standing directly in front of police officers, chanting "We don't die, we multiply!" Other protesters were seen shouting and dancing in the street. Images from SKY 11 showed a crowd of more than 100, with more people arriving and the noise increasing as the afternoon unfolded.
Harteau met with the media Wednesday afternoon and told reporters that the decision to retake the precinct building and remove protesters was a matter of public safety -- and was a decision she made as chief. She said her department recognizes the public's right to protest, but said members of Black Lives Matter and other groups were sleeping and spending time in the precinct entry, blocking residents from getting in to see officers.
Fourth Precinct Inspector Mike Friestleben says four female protesters were occupying the entryway Wednesday afternoon and were asked to leave. When they refused, the women were cited for trespassing. As officers were moving the women out Friestleben says the crowd became agitated and violent, and started pelting officers with rocks and bottles. At that point tactical squads were called in armed with guns that fire beanbags.
During the uproar officers were able to identify and arrest a man suspected of punching a Minnesota State Trooper in the face on Monday night. They also chased down and arrested a protester who hit an officer with a bottle.
Both Chief Harteau and Inspector Friestleben commended officers for their poise and restraint, dealing with demonstrators who have at times been verbally abusive and physically violent, throwing rocks and bottles from the time the "occupation" began Sunday night. The chief says that protesters have become increasingly bold and comfortable as the demonstration went on, even smoking pot and sleeping in the entrance of the precinct.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, there was an interesting moment as Jamar Clark's sister drove up on the scene as protesters were shouting down police. Javille Burns opened her window and addressed protesters, clearly angry, asking them what their goal was. "You're pissing people off," she shouted. "These officers can't do nothing for you... you're ignorant." When one protester tried to engage her, Burns jumped out of the car and ran at him. "That's my brother that got shot... my blood (expletive) brother!"
Related Jamar Clark shooting coverage below: