Police and protesters clash for second night in Brooklyn Center; arrests begin after curfew

Police and protesters clash for second night in Brooklyn Center; arrests begin after curfew

After curfew took effect Monday night, there was a second night of clashes in Brooklyn Center between police and protesters over the killing of Daunte Wright by a police officer.

Police began making arrests for curfew violations. Across Humboldt Avenue from the police station, looters were seen in a Dollar Tree store in a strip mall. Smoke billowed out of the building and officials said firefighters were responding.

Businesses in Minneapolis were broken into at several locations on Monday night and officers were making arrests, according to Operation Safety Net, the coordinated law enforcement effort put into place for the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, which is under way.

Earlier Monday, in announcing the metrowide curfew, Gov. Tim Walz said there is space for peaceful protests, but no tolerance for anyone who wants to cause harm or destruction. Extra law enforcement and Minnesota National Guard members were added to the streets,

Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter shot and killed Wright, 20, during a traffic stop on Sunday. The police chief released body camera footage Monday, saying Potter meant to shoot him with her Taser and not her handgun.

On Monday night, people chanted “No justice, no peace,” as law enforcement in riot gear stood inside a fenced enclosure outside the police department.

There were people who launched bottles, fireworks and bricks at officers, according to Operation Safety Net. About 90 minutes after the curfew deadline, police began firing gas canisters and flash-bang grenades in an attempt to drive them away, sending clouds wafting over the crowd and pushing some back at least briefly.

After giving four dispersal orders, Operation Safety Net announced at 9 p.m. that officers were arresting people who were violating curfew, which is a misdemeanor.

VIGIL FOR WRIGHT

People gather during a vigil for Daunte Wright on April 12, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Wright was shot and killed Sunday by Brooklyn Center police during a traffic stop. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

A candlelight vigil for Wright was moved up an hour in light of the governor’s curfew. The crowd stood in silent witness as Wright’s mother described her son in detail.

“Prayers and tears flow,” said Carin Mrotz, executive director of Jewish Community Action, in a social media post. “The peace is interrupted only twice: our phones reminding us of curfew at 7, and helicopters above.”

Wright’s brother, Dallas Bryant, told about a hundred people gathered that Wright sounded scared when he called his mother as he was getting pulled over. He questioned how the officer could accidentally reach for a gun instead of a Taser.

MORE GUARD MEMBERS, OFFICERS

Minnesota National Guard and State Troopers stand guard outside the Brooklyn Center Police Station April 12, 2021. (Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images)

The National Guard had about 500 personnel assigned to support Operation Safety Net as of Monday morning and expected that number to grow to more than 1,000 by the end of the day.

Overall, officials said they were accelerating security measures that were planned for when the Chauvin case goes to the jury for deliberation.

Earlier Monday, community members criticized the response to protests.

“The escalation that we’re seeing … and all of this militarization is here to protect killer cops, not to protect people from the killer cops that are killing us,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

On Sunday night and early Monday morning, many protesters who gathered near the scene in Brooklyn Center were peaceful, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a post on Facebook.

“Unfortunately, some of the activity devolved into dangerous and destructive behavior — some of which popped up here in St. Paul,” Axtell continued.

REPORTS OF LOOTING NIGHT BEFORE

A National Guard soldier maintains watch at a shopping center in Brooklyn Center. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

There was looting at Shingle Creek Crossing in Brooklyn Center — about 20 businesses were broken into and many had their merchandise cleared out, said Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said earlier Monday. In Minneapolis, at the peak, there were 24 looting incidents simultaneously, he added.

Based on plans already in place for Operation Safety Net, they “began moving officers in to stop the violence and stop the looting,” Harrington said.

Early Monday morning in St. Paul, people smashed windows or doors at seven businesses and stole merchandise from a couple of them.

St. Paul called additional officers in to work early Monday morning and continued to have extra officers working Monday night into Tuesday morning.

Between 1:45 and 4:30 a.m. Monday, three businesses on St. Paul’s University Avenue were burglarized or damaged, along with one each on Marshall Avenue, Payne Avenue, Arcade Street and Sherwood Avenue. They included liquor stores, cell phone stores and gas stations. Lottery tickets were stolen from two businesses, and tobacco products and cash from one of them, according to police.

Police arrested three people in their 20s and a 17-year-old in St. Paul.

The St. Paul Police Department canceled officers’ vacations and days off, and people should expect to see more squads out on patrol, according to Axtell. Members of the National Guard will be out “to protect critical infrastructure” in St. Paul, Axtell continued.

“While I can’t guarantee that there won’t be illegal activity in response to (Sunday’s) incident, I can tell you that the SPPD and its partners have been planning and training for months to ensure we’re as prepared as possible to protect free speech and keep the city’s neighborhoods safe,” said Axtell, who called the shooting of Wright “a heartbreaking tragedy.”

Frederick Melo and Nick Woltman contributed to this report, which includes information from the Associated Press.

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