MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tensions remain high Thursday morning after a violent exchange between police and protesters overnight at Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct.
Police say they had to spray chemical irritant at the crowd in North Minneapolis after trying to remove tarps, and having rocks and bottles thrown at them. Police sprayed the crowd and also fired what they call marker rounds at people to later find suspects.
There was also damage to squad cars in the precinct parking lot. Police say protesters caused the damage by throwing bricks Wednesday night.
The protests follow the shooting early Sunday morning of Jamar Clark.
Since Sunday, protesters have stood in solidarity outside the precinct and are adamant they are not going anywhere until they have answers in the Clark’s shooting.
“I think that people confuse angry with violent,” Kandace Montgomery said. “I think it’s because people are so committed to Minnesota Nice that when people raise their voice, when people get a little bit angry, they are getting violent. People are just expressing their trauma. They are just expressing their anger and we have to have space for that.”
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis told WCCO they don’t need police in this community and proceeded to block every entrance. That’s when things escalated.
The unrest started around 1:30 p.m. when officers moved to take back the space being occupied by protesters, an action Police Chief Janeé Harteau said she authorized. Protesters then blocked public access to the building.
Demonstrators told WCCO they wanted to make the precinct a “no-cop zone” and the best way for them to do that was to make sure they couldn’t get in our out.
Police, already in full force, say they used a short burst of chemical irritant at protesters, who used milk to get rid of the sting from the irritant. Police said they used irritant twice overnight, but protesters maintain it was more often.
An already heated crowd led chants while armed police took their position on the roof. Protesters on the back side of the precinct put up tarps and used them as shields.
Mayor Betsy Hodges released a statement: “Chief Harteau and I are asking officers to exercise maximum restraint, and are asking protesters to act peacefully.”
The names of the two officers involved in that shooting were released on Wednesday. They were Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, who both started with Minneapolis police on the same day last September.
The head of the union that represents Minneapolis police officers says Clark reached for one of the officer’s guns, before the other officer shot Clark. The union head also says Clark was not wearing handcuffs at the time of the shooting, something protesters dispute.
Protesters continue demanding to see video that may or may not show what actually happened.