MINNEAPOLIS - Saying they "will not bow to fear or intimidation," leaders of Black Lives Matter (BLM) announced Tuesday that demonstrators are recommitting to the so-called occupation of the Minneapolis Police Fourth Precinct following the fatal shooting of a young black man.
The announcement follows an explosion of violence late Monday during which five demonstrators were shot by men they were escorting from the encampment on Plymouth Avenue. BLM spokesperson Miski Noor says the four men were masked, and were videotaping demonstrators who were at the encampment. Noor says when the men were were asked to de-mask and state their purpose for being there, they refused, so a number of protesters began escorting them from the encampment. About half a block from the police station, the men opened fire, wounding at least five people.
"What happened last night was a planned hate crime and an act of terrorism against activists who have been occupying the Fourth Precinct," asserted Noor.
She also alleges that officers on scene at the precinct maced citizen journalists and peaceful protesters, and didn't take the potential for violence seriously despite warning of threats from white supremacists earlier in the week.
"We reiterate that we have zero faith in the police department's desire to keep our community safe," she said.
Black Lives Matter protesters marched from the Fourth Precinct to downtown Minneapolis, with the target of stopping at City Hall. A number of Minneapolis schools also walked out of class Tuesday, joining the movement with separate marches that included a die-in at 50th and France in Edina.
There had been talk of ending the occupation of the precinct and exploring other avenues for change, but Monday night's shooting has apparently changed those plans.
Late Tuesday morning Minneapolis Police did announce the arrests of two men they say are among the shooters, one a 23-year-old male who was taken into custody in Bloomington, the other a 32-year-old man who was arrested in south Minneapolis. Chief Janee' Harteau tweeted a strong statement supporting her officers.
"MPD worked non-stop thru the night to bring justice in last nights shooting of 5 protestors...2 arrests!," Harteau posted. "True professionals!"