MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police say an attempt to clear out a homeless encampment in Minneapolis Thursday morning led to a violent clash between officers and dozens of people.
A group called Minnesota Uprising shared a video on Twitter showing officers and several others scuffling on the ground just before 7 a.m. The video shows part of the incident where one officer uses pepper spray and shoves a person. At the same time, several officers join in to pull someone off another officer laying on the ground. Then it appears an officer tries to restrain that person by laying their knee on that person’s neck or upper back.READ MORE: 3 Teens Arrested In Connection To Drive-By Shootings In Northern Minnesota
Police arrested five people involved in resisting the eviction, but the group living there stood their ground and the eviction did not happen. The encampment, just north of downtown Minneapolis, still stands.
Jojo Miller, who lives in this encampment, witnessed the confrontation.
“A lot of the encampment was scared, yeah, they were in fear,” Miller said.
He says the violence he witnessed was not a surprise.
“When this type of thing happens, they normally come this aggressive,” Miller said.
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo spoke about the incident at a news conference Thursday with Mayor Jacob Frey. Arradondo says the city asked for officers to help with the immediate eviction.READ MORE: Sen. Tina Smith Cosponsors Bill That Aims To Expand SCOTUS, Abolish Filibuster: ’Doing Nothing Is Not An Option’
“I was appalled by the actions of those community members that attacked my officers,” Arradondo said.
A city spokesperson told WCCO in part: “Due to site contamination, fire hazards, and other health and safety risks, the City decided to close the encampment.”
The city gave an eviction notice three days prior, which is why those living in the encampment and community members who support them were prepared to hold their ground.
“When it was time to fight for what was right, we did, and everybody banned together,” Miller said. “This isn’t for some type of attention. This is for them witnessing, seeing we’re people, we have lives, and though we do suffer from mental illness, myself included, we’re still people, and we still deserve housing.”
The Racial Justice Network is bringing attention to the behavior by officers in the video. A spokesperson gave this statement to WCCO:
The City of Minneapolis needs to take responsibility for this. They let vulnerable community members stay outside all winter and are only now forcing them to move. What solution have they offered? Shelters, during a pandemic. The city has had plenty of time to come up with a plan to assist unhoused people in a way that is responsive and responsible. Given the violent behavior of the Minneapolis Police, the city should have known better than to send them after some of our city’s most vulnerable people. The videos we saw showed behavior by police officers that was highly disturbing and unconscionable.MORE NEWS: Minneapolis Teachers To Picket Thursday, Call For More Support Amid Pandemic
St. Stephens Housing Network is working directly with those living in the encampment to help re-house them. Click here to help.