MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis’ mayor, police chief and two city council members faced the media Thursday afternoon to discuss the on-going protests in the city’s 4th Precinct.
Thursday is the fifth day of protests over the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who was fatally shot by a Minneapolis Police officer last weekend.
Police ejected Black Lives Matter protesters from the entryway of the 4th Precinct police station Wednesday afternoon, leading to several tense hours and occasional violence.
Chief Janee Harteau says most of the 400 protesters were peaceful, but some were violent – throwing hundreds of rocks, bottles and bricks.
She says officers sprayed chemical irritants when people were seen throwing objects, but they also say some protesters also sprayed chemicals at officers.
Officers also fired compressed chalk rounds twice Wednesday, which marked suspects who threw objects so police are able to identify them later.
Harteau says about $25,000 of damage occurred to 12 squad cars. Two portable cameras also sustained about $13,000 of damage. The 4th Precinct building also sustained broken windows, damage to a fence and Harteau says a retaining wall was totaled.
She also said three Molotov cocktails were thrown at officers early Thursday morning, and shots were fired nearby the precinct. Police were not able to track down the suspects, but are reviewing surveillance video.
Harteau says she believes anarchists may be to blame for some of the violent acts based on flags that some protesters were holding. She said some of these suspects are likely from outside of the community, and are trying to incite violence.
She says Minneapolis Police have a history of facilitating peaceful demonstrations.
“Specifically with Black Lives Matter, we support the First Amendment right, we support peaceful demonstration — but we will not tolerate violence,” Harteau said.
Mayor Betsy Hodges says she wants strength, peace and reconciliation for her city. She says she wants to honor those who want to grieve the death of Jamar Clark, but added that she must assure the safety of citizens, police officers and property.
“We are a city that must come together and help together,” Hodges said.
She asked protesters who say they have been assaulted by police to contact the Office of Police Conduct Review at 612-673-5500, or the Internal Affairs Unit at 612-673-3074.
The mayor also addressed an incident Wednesday night when protesters showed up at her south Minneapolis home. She was not there at the time, but says her husband was “gracious” for allowing protesters inside to talk. Police officers accompanied the protesters inside.
Protesters also met with Hodges Thursday morning at city hall to discuss “big picture” topics, including the relationship between the community and police.
Harteau noted that one of the demands of Black Lives Matter protesters is the release of all videos of the deadly confrontation between officers and Clark. But she said the release of those videos is up to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The police chief said she is proud of her officers, who she says have responded appropriately to protesters and have shown adequate restraint. But she emphasized that they are tired from their multi-day ordeal.
Minneapolis City Council members Barb Johnson and Blong Yang were also at the press conference. Johnson said protesters must not impede police from during their jobs in the neighborhood.
“We need access to our police, and they need access to us,” Johnson said.
She also discussed the presence of other council members at the demonstrations, and said it is not helpful for them to criticize decisions made by Chief Harteau.