MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Eight people were arrested Thursday morning as Minneapolis police cleared protesters from the 4th precinct.
For 19 days members of Black Lives Matter and the north Minneapolis community have occupied the space outside of Minneapolis Police’s 4th Precinct. They are protesting the fatal officer-involved shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark and demanding video of the arrest be released.
On Wednesday, neighbors voiced their concerns about the encampment outside of the 4th Precinct at a City Council meeting, according to the Associated Press. Resident Patricia Anderson said her daughter’s car window has been smashed, bricks have been taken from a wall on her property and she’s having trouble sleeping. She said she wants the protesters to leave.
Shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday, officers moved into the encampment and told protesters they had 10 minutes to vacate the premises.
According to Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau, officers gave protesters four dispersal orders, an order in writing and a notice was posted outside of the precinct. The notice stated that if they didn’t disperse they could be arrested.
“It is a city building within city grounds and people have the right to peacefully demonstrate or protest,” the notice said. But it said that neither structures nor fires will be allowed on city property and that access to the police station must remain open.
Harteau said protesters were allowed to move on their own before officers came in. Police then began to move the remaining protesters off of Plymouth Avenue to an area on Plymouth and North Morgan Avenue.
Eight people were arrested during the clearing; seven for obstructing the legal process and one for trespassing. They were taken to Hennepin County Jail and processed. It is unknown if they have been released.
The Minneapolis Fire Department put out the fires and bulldozers and Bob Cats then came in and began clearing fire pits, food and clothing that had been set up along Plymouth Avenue.
WCCO’s Reg Chapman spoke with Clark’s brother Chris Hill.
Hill said about 40 to 50 protesters were on the scene when police came in. He said police handed protesters a note telling them they had 10 minutes to gather their belongings and leave.
Hill told WCCO, “it was so sad to see the destruction of an encampment. Our safe place, our sense of community.”
“We’re living in a messed up world and if we don’t get it right, no one is going to get it right,” Hill said. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Protesters told WCCO that the letter from police claimed items left would be held onto for safe keeping, but so far that has not happened. Harteau said at a press conference Thursday morning that belongings are being held by the police and people were given information on how to retrieve them.
Member of Black Lives Matter told WCCO that this removal does not deter their efforts.
At a press conference Thursday morning Harteau and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges both said they support the group’s right to freedom of speech but public safety is their number one priority.
“We will continue to support and facilitate their first amendment rights and freedom of speech, but we also support and enforce the ordinances of the city of Minneapolis and the laws of Minnesota,” Harteau said. “The first priority has always been public safety.”
Harteau said a fence has been erected around the 4th Precinct and will stay there for an undetermined amount of time. Prior to Thursday morning’s events, Harteau said $750,000 had been spent in overtime for the Minneapolis Police Department.
Both Harteau and Hodges thanked police for their professionalism and protesters for their peaceful cooperation during Thursday morning’s clearing.
There were no incidents during the arrests and no injuries.
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