MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Protests began Friday afternoon and continued into the early hours of Saturday morning in Uptown, Minneapolis, where Winston Smith was fatally shot by members of a U.S. Marshals task force on Thursday.
During rush hour, protesters blocked Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street, causing what police called “substantial traffic delays.” A few bus routes were also diverted from the area.
As the evening continued some demonstrators used dumpsters and cars to block off West Lake Street and Girard Avenue South.
Minneapolis police say some protesters rioted and officers arrested several people. Spokesperson John Elder said he will provide an update on the number of arrests on Saturday afternoon.
A few hours later, there was a large police presence at the corner of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, where a dumpster was set on fire.
Minneapolis police, who say they are stretched thin due to unrest and homicide investigations, are receiving help from the Minnesota State Patrol and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department.
The protests come days after Smith, 32, was fatally shot by law enforcement Thursday afternoon. He died on the fifth story roof of an Uptown parking ramp. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says Smith fired a gun from inside his car.
Marshals Service officials say Smith was wanted “on a state arrest warrant” for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
BCA says U.S. Marshals do not allow for the use of body camera or squad car footage of the task force and thus no footage of the shooting exists. Last October, the U.S. Department of Justice rolled out a new policy to permit task force officers to use body-warn cameras. U.S. Marshals started to phase in the policy in February of 2021, and it “continues to be implemented in The District of Minnesota,” according to a DOJ press release.
Nevertheless, Smith’s family is demanding transparency and asking that video footage be released of his shooting.
“We refuse to believe that no one has video footage, after all those different departments showed up yesterday. We want transparency and we demand it now,” said Toshira Garraway.
Smith’s family held a vigil on top of the parking ramp Friday evening, laying flowers and candles. Smith’s brother says he wants the memorial to remain as-is.
Saturday evening Elder shared information regarding activity taking place during the second night of protests.
According to his report, 27 People were arrested during the demonstrations in the area of West Lake Street and Fremont. All of those who were detained were adults, 26 were arrested for Probable Cause Riot, and one was arrested for Probable Cause Weapons.
Damage to property and buildings were reported, however, there were no signs of looting.
The report stated that Minneapolis Fire Department responded to numerous fires in the area as some rioters were said to have lit dumpsters, trees, and other items on fire.
No injuries were reported.