Chief: Violence toward police by 'anarchists' at protests

Police warn of violent outside agitators

MINNEAPOLIS - Twelve squad cars with significant damage, a broken window, a totaled retaining wall and three Molotov cocktails. A frustrated Minneapolis Police Chief listed the damages caused by night four of the ongoing protests at the Fourth Precinct.

Chief Janee Harteau said at a press conference on Thursday the squad car damages are estimated at $25,000, there's another $13,000 in damages for two portable cameras that were broken and they're still waiting on total damages for the broken window, damaged fence and totaled retaining wall at the precinct.

She said those at the protest, estimated at upwards of 400 total, were mostly peaceful -- but some threw bottles, hundreds of rocks and a dozen bricks. One officer was sprayed with an irritant and required medical attention, Harteau said.

But perhaps most disturbing were the three Molotov cocktails thrown at police officers late Wednesday night -- at a time when Harteau said most protesters had left the area for the evening.

She said officers searched for the suspects but were unsuccessful at locating them. However, they are still looking at surveillance tape. No arrests took place Wednesday.

"We are dealing with anarchists, based on the flag that we saw," she said. "We believe people from outside of our community are coming in to perpetrate violence."

Harteau said police used a chemical irritant when people started throwing rocks and damaging property, as they felt the situation was escalating. Two marking rounds -- a chalk-like bullet used to mark suspects -- were also used to identify people in the crowd who were throwing rocks.

"We support peaceful demonstrations but we will not tolerate violent actions that will put our public at risk in the city of Minneapolis," Harteau said. "And I also will not tolerate any violent actions against my officers and will hold those responsible ... accountable. The No. 1 priority continues to be public safety for everyone involved."

Ezra Hyland, longtime Minneapolis resident, said he stands in solidarity with any organization that focuses on a beloved community and restoration. However, he believes not everyone who has been present at the protests are there for that cause.

"Since Sunday I have been out almost every day and I have witnessed people throwing rocks at the police," he said. "I witnessed last night people throwing rocks and the police shooting tear gas. I've witnessed people arguing with the family of Jamar Clark about who is his true family and who has the right to speak for him. I've witnessed people threatening to shoot police officers. Threatening community members with violence. Those things are not within the spirit of Dr. King."

Hyland said he believes people are using this opportunity -- a place that's supposed to be peaceful -- to get out their personal frustrations and their desires for violence.

"I also hope and pray that the people who are committed to violence and who are not part of the true aims of Black Lives Matter to remove themselves from the situation," he said.

Ronald Edwards, a longtime activist and a resident of north Minneapolis since 1945, said he was there when National Guard troops were called onto the streets of north Minneapolis and is thankful this situation is not a repeat of the past.

"It was not a very pleasant scene, the conditions were volatile," he said. "We were angry 47 years ago, we felt disillusioned, but at the same time, we had a sense of perseverance, we had a sense that something would happen and something would change. Things don't go the way we always wanted because we don't live in a perfect society and we are not perfect individuals. But I am concerned about the emergence of outside agitators and particularly the events that happened late last night, when individuals and military-style attacks jeopardized the safety and the continuity of an entire community."


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