Brooklyn Center, Minn., Mayor Mike Elliott tried to “take a different approach” in not implementing a curfew after a police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Protesters who had gathered in front of the police station may not have completely understood what the mayor’s goal was, but they seized the opportunity to attack the station anyway.
Several hundred demonstrators breached the police line and the police pushed back, firing pepper spray and flash bangs. More than 100 protesters were arrested.
Rioters continued to throw objects at police, including glass bottles, over the barrier. The riot was declared an unlawful assembly shortly after.
In an overnight press conference, law enforcement showed items that rioters had brought to the demonstration including cans, umbrellas, paint cans and wooden shields.
“If we want change in policing, we want reform in policing – let’s do that. Let’s get together and start reform,” Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said. “This profession needs help. We can admit that. We’re not perfect. We can be better. But these people are not people you should be supporting.”
Things had actually quieted down a little on Thursday night. Minnesota Public Radio reports that “Authorities did not issue dispersal orders and allowed the crowd to leave on its own.” Then the mayor announced there wouldn’t be a curfew that night and, not surprisingly, the crowd got unruly.
At a midnight news conference after the vastly different events of Friday night, Minnesota’s public safety commissioner, John Harrington, said officers were prepared to repeat the same tactics of patience that they deployed on Thursday.
But Harrington said Friday’s law enforcement response, in stark contrast to the previous night, was prompted by the actions of the demonstrators who had gathered around the police department. He laid out a timeline of the evening that included people bringing shields and umbrellas and breaching the exterior fence that had been set up along the perimeter of the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
He said upwards of 100 people had been arrested, but did not yet know what they had been charged with.
“This is a night that should’ve been about Daunte Wright,” Harrington said. “Tearing down a fence, coming armed to a protest, is not in my mind befitting a peaceful protest. It is not befitting groups that are there to recognize the tragedy that is the loss of Daunte Wright.”
The protesters believe the police should have hung back and not interfered with the rioters’ plans. They tried that in Portland and they burned the police station to the ground.
As is becoming common, activists — in this case, the mayor — are making impossible demands on police and expecting the situation to remain stable.
Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson asked Elliott in a letter Wednesday to clarify whether he still wanted the department’s help. The mayor wrote in a letter Thursday that his city still needs help but pressed assisting agencies not to engage with protesters.
“It is my view that as long as protesters are peaceful and not directly interacting with law enforcement, law enforcement should not engage with them,” Elliott wrote. “Again, this is a request and not an attempt to limit necessary law enforcement response.”
Protesters who throw bottles and rocks at police are not “peaceful” and urgently desire to interact with police by provoking a response. Then their allies in the media and activists scream “police brutality” when the cops try to protect themselves and property — mission accomplished.
We’ve seen this TV show before, but here’s a spoiler alert: The cops are the villains.