MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Total chaos. That’s how some describe the scene at the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Gun shots are fired from a car spinning around on Lake Street Wednesday night. From car racing to people setting small fires and blocking off roads.

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The back and forth between officials and troublemakers has been going on every night for weeks. People who live and work in that area say it’s not safe and they need help to turn things around.

“There were at least six or seven cars doing burnouts, donuts, fishtails and then the guy pulls out a handgun and starts shooting it in the air,” said Dave LaLiberte.

LaLiberte lives and owns a business close to where hot rodding and shooting has taken hold in Uptown.

“Criminal activity going on, fires being lit,” LaLiberte said.

He and others who live and work in this area want answers as to why it keeps happening and why law enforcement is not stopping it.

“We have already made strong headway in the case from last night,” said John Elder.

Minneapolis police have adapted patrol tactics to get more officers in uniform and plain clothes in the Uptown area.

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“It started around like 10, I mean it went on for, what, three, three and a half hours,” LaLiberte said.

LaLiberte and others who witnessed this chaos are asking why officers took hours to show up and control the situation.

“For us to be able to enter a situation we need to have a safe number of staffing to do that,” Elder said.

Minneapolis police pulled officers from other precincts to assist. WCCO was told it takes time to get them in place and in the proper gear to handle the crowd.

“If people are using peaceful protesters as cover to cause that kind of chaos in our city we all need to be condemning it,” said Mayor Jacob Frey.

That area of Uptown has been targeted for protests but officials says Wednesday night’s behavior transcends First Amendment rights.

“This is simply unlawful. This is criminal behavior. That’s all that it is. This isn’t in memory of anybody who has died. This is criminal behavior, there are criminal acts,” Elder said.

Police believe the chaos is caused by an organized group, and people from the area come out to watch.

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Increased patrols are now in the area. MPD is working with FBI and ATF to find those responsible, and along with the city, county and U.S. attorney’s office, those involved will face the most severe charges.

Reg Chapman