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Minneapolis mayor: Arrests will be made in Uptown if protests are not peaceful

Mayor Jacob Frey called for a balance of free speech and safety, two days after a woman was hit and killed during a protest over Winston Smith's shooting death.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said police will begin making arrests Tuesday night in Uptown if ongoing protests are not peaceful.

Tuesday's news conference with the mayor and city council leaders followed several days in a row of protests over the June 3 shooting death of Winston Smith by deputies on a federal task force.

On Sunday night, an SUV rammed into a car parked as a barrier to protect protesters, sending the car into the crowd and killing a 31-year-old woman. Three other people were injured.

The woman killed was identified by family as Deona Marie. Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder released a statement Tuesday naming 35-year-old Nicholas D. Kraus as the suspect in Sunday’s crash. He has not yet been formally charged.

RELATED: 'Just a beautiful person': Woman fatally struck by SUV in Uptown identified

At Tuesday's news conference, Mayor Frey said the protests have become a public safety issue at the busy intersection of Lake and Girard. He said the city began working Tuesday morning to remove makeshift barriers that had been set up in the street.

"We can’t have a major commercial corridor like this shut down," Frey said. "We can’t have unauthorized closure of our streets, period."

Frey said the blocking of the intersection is keeping essential services from reaching that neighborhood, and said he has spoken with residents and business owners in Uptown.

“We don’t want conflict,” he said. “We don’t want to inflict additional trauma on a community that has already experienced so much.”

The mayor said there will be an increased law enforcement presence at the intersection on Tuesday night, and that a dispersal order will be issued "if anything goes beyond peaceful protest." He said people will then be given time to leave and if they don't, "arrests will in fact be made."

RELATED: What led up to Winston Smith's encounter with law enforcement?

The mayor said the Minneapolis Police Department has been prioritizing de-escalation during the protests.

“They’ve been patient,” Frey said. “That being said, the atmosphere has indeed shifted."

MPD Fifth Precinct Inspector Katie Blackwell said her officers know that people need to heal, and acknowledged that even police officers showing up in uniform can escalate the situation.

"People taking over the intersections and blocking it is very unsafe," she said.

Inspector Blackwell said that police worked in collaboration with city officials to clear out the intersection Tuesday morning. She said her department is getting calls from residents and businesses in the area.

"It is very difficult for them right now to try to go about their lives," she said. "This has turned to more of a taking over the streets and unsafe acts going on."

As for further protests, Blackwell said, “We are monitoring the situation and we have resources in place to be able to respond to any unsafe acts, especially acts of violence or destruction.”

Blackwell said police are asking that if people go out to the intersection to protest, that they stay on the sidewalk and off the road itself.

RELATED: Fugitive task force losing local police agencies over body-worn camera policy

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said the shooting death of Winston Smith was "exacerbated" by what she called incomplete information being released by authorities.

“The city stands with the family of Winston Smith in demanding transparency," Bender said. “I know that people are protesting in the streets because they want every member of the community to care about Winston Smith’s life.”

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has said there was no body camera video of the shooting, because the U.S. Marshal Service does not allow officers serving on its fugitive task force to wear them. Bender called on the BCA to provide as much information as possible about what happened, and on the county attorney's office to provide updates on charges in Deona Marie's death.

Bender said the city is working to balance the right to protest with public safety.

RELATED: 'She never saw a gun': Attorney for witness says man killed by deputies didn't have gun

Frey told the public that city leaders are joining protesters in calling for answers about Smith's death. He said he has asked the United States Attorney's Office for more transparency, and has made it clear that Minneapolis police will not join any task force where body cameras are not in use.

"No body cameras, no MPD," he said.

Frey said the city stands ready to support peaceful protests.

“We can demand accountability, we can demand transparency without compromising the necessary facets of community service that we need on a daily basis,” he said. “We can fight to advance racial justice without harming our neighborhoods regardless of the circumstances that are occurring.”

The mayor asked the public to join with him in calling for change, but said the city needs to keep the intersection safe.

"We’re not letting up the pressure," he said. “We are also calling for peace.”

RELATED: Woman killed, 3 others hurt after driver hits car shielding crowd of protesters in Uptown

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