MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s Republican Party accused Minneapolis’ mayor Wednesday of blaming the victims of a protest that turned ugly.
Donald Trump supporters say demonstrators pushed and shoved them outside a fundraiser at the Minneapolis Convention Center last week.READ MORE: Towns Carries Wolves Past Curry-Less Warriors, 119-99
When top Republicans questioned the police response, DFL Mayor Betsy Hodges said some attendees did not use available escorts.
Minneapolis police say they escorted 50 people to safety after the Trump fundraiser, but many other Trump supporters were on their own, and say they were intimidated and assaulted.
Some supporters say they were surrounded by protesters, pushed and shoved, spit on and spray-painted.
Henry Schemper tried to protect a group of women he did not know from assault.
“Number one, I guess I’m a little old fashioned,” said Schemper, a Trump supporter from Plymouth. “I didn’t think anyone would be touching a woman, you know? Number two, I just, the officers were there so I figured they can’t touch us.”
Police were on site but did not intervene, according to Schemper and others who attended, quoting officers as saying their “hands are tied.”READ MORE: Interim MPD Chief Amelia Huffman Says Her Focus Will Be On Violent Crime
Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey says the incident raises serious questions about city protection.
“What I’m left with, unfortunately, is the distinct impression that if we hold another marquee Republican event in the city of Minneapolis, that this could easily be repeated,” Downey said.
Minneapolis police are looking at 30 hours of body camera video to try to figure out what happened, according to Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
But in a letter to Downey, Mayor Hodges said, “the City cannot control decisions that individuals may made about accepting protection available to them.”
Some of the people attending the event said they asked for a police escort because of what they called “immediate danger.”
“People were too afraid to walk to their cars,” said Sheri AuClair of Minnetonka, who was among a group of 15 escorted to safety. “A couple of people left their cars downtown because they did not want to be anywhere near that convention center. It was like a free-for-all.”
Schemper says he and others were not warned about danger in advance, and did not know what awaited them outside the convention center doors.
Chief Harteau says she has launched an inquiry into the Friday night fracas, and police are investigating three reports of violence and vandalism. And she is urging anyone with information — including video– to come forward.MORE NEWS: Texas Synagogue Attack Has Minnesota Temples On Alert
Minneapolis police report no arrests were made, and they are trying to identify the protesters who assaulted the Trump supporters.