An emergency curfew expired and downtown Minneapolis was calm Thursday morning after unrest broke out following what authorities said was misinformation about the suicide of a Black homicide suspect.
Gov. Tim Walz mobilized the Minnesota National Guard at the request of Mayor Jacob Frey, who imposed the curfew after people broke windows and stole merchandise Wednesday night from stores on and near the Nicollet Mall, a pedestrian plaza that runs through downtown. People broke into a Target store and stole merchandise and set a popular British pub on fire. Other businesses were damaged, including some outside of downtown.
Frey said Thursday that another curfew would go into effect from 8 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday.
Emotions have remained raw over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes on May 25. Floyd’s death sparked protests worldwide, including several nights of violence in Minneapolis. Demonstrators also gathered in Minneapolis this week to protest after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot multiple times by police in Wisconsin on Sunday, leaving him paralyzed.
“The killing of George Floyd has brought a torrent of pain and anguish to our entire city, to our entire nation and has especially impacted our Black community. And we recognize that none of this happens in a vacuum,” Frey said Thursday. “It is righteous to vent that pain and anguish in a peaceful protest. But what happened last night was neither peaceful nor was it a form of protest that moved us forward.”
TV footage and reporter’s tweets Wednesday night showed people grabbing merchandise at a Saks OFF 5TH store, and broken windows and shrimp scattered on the sidewalk outside Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Two officers were injured, Chief Medaria Arradondo said.
Arradondo said about 50 people were arrested on charges including riot, burglary and obstruction.
The Minneapolis Fire Department said it responded to four fires late Wednesday and early Thursday, including one at Brits Pub on the Nicollet Mall, plus three businesses in south Minneapolis, a Tires Plus, a Walgreens and a China Wok restaurant. The department said there were no injuries from the fires. South Minneapolis, where a police station was burned in May, was the epicenter of unrest over Floyd’s death.
The State Patrol mobilized about 150 troopers, the governor said. He did not give a figure for how many National Guard soldiers were deployed.
National Guard soldiers were seen downtown Thursday morning, as workers at various businesses boarded up windows and swept up glass.
“This is part of a larger narrative. It was the flashpoint of George Floyd, it has spread across this nation. It does us no good to try and either divide or ignore or to make it worse or to blame someone. We’re just, as a state and as a nation, going to have to come together and figure out what our next steps are,” Walz said.
Arradondo tried to dispel rumors that spread on social media about the death of the unidentified Black man, who was suspected in a Wednesday afternoon homicide and fatally shot himself on the Nicollet Mall as officers approached several hours later. His death, which was captured on city surveillance video and released by police within 90 minutes, nonetheless sparked protests and unrest in the heart of downtown.
The video confirmed the police account of what happened and showed the man glancing over his shoulder before pulling out a gun and firing, then collapsing to the ground as a half-dozen witnesses ran away with their hands in the air. The officers, one of whom had his gun drawn, shooed a remaining witness away and kicked the suspect’s gun away before performing chest compressions.
Police tweeted that they removed the video from their social media accounts Thursday after getting feedback from the community.
City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, a leader of the effort to overhaul the police force following Floyd’s death, called for understanding about why the violence broke out.
“MPD did not kill him, but people assuming they did is rooted in a steep distrust,” he tweeted. “That distrust is our failure to own. Seeing windows broken and items stolen can be beyond frustrating, especially when all that rage was sparked (this time) by misinformation. But so often our policing institutions have themselves been the source of misinformation. We forfeited our goodwill and this is the ugly cost.”
AP reporter Steve Karnowski contributed from Minneapolis.