Daily Reformer: Under attack

Businesses on E. Lake St. continued cleanup efforts. Photo by Hannah Black/Minnesota Reformer.

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Another terrible night in the Twin Cities and especially Minneapolis, as fires and chaos again raged. Max Nesterak was in the field Friday night, getting more interviews with his fellow Minneapolis residents as the city burned. He and Rilyn Eischens have the story of Friday night.  

At a morning news conference, Gov. Tim Walz and other officials said the unrest has nothing to do with the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police but is rather a group of unruly criminals — many from out of state — who are intent on destroying the city and its civic pillars. (Max Nesterak reporting.)

Walz called it “an organized attempt to destabilize civil society.”

He said roughly 80% of these criminals are from outside Minnesota. Mayor Melvin Carter said among the 20 arrests made in St. Paul Friday night, all were from outside the state. (He later corrected to “most” after receiving new information, he said. But that wasn’t true either. 12 of 18 arrested were Minnesotan.) 

The proverbial “outside agitators.” (This term was used by Jim Crow racists to describe civil rights activists, so yes, a bit of paradox or maybe even irony here.) 

The implication, though ultimately left unsaid, is that these are white people trying to cause trouble. Twitter was afire with accusations that white supremacists were the main actors Friday night. (And, of course, the intent of the outsiders is that Black people will get blamed.)

It’s too early to say what’s true and what’s not. 

But the implications are massive. 

If Minneapolis is under attack from people trying to create a race war or topple the government or just destroy cities they view with hostility, that obviously has major political ramifications. 

If Minneapolis residents destroyed their own city, the public and voters in November may say, well, to hell with them. That’s their problem. 

But if Minneapolis was essentially attacked by outsiders, then the public says, “We stand with Minneapolis.” 

(Especially if the outsiders are Wisconsites, amirite?)

Here’s some background on potential outsiders. Independent journalists Robert Evans and Jason Williams report that a Facebook group called Big Igloo Bois has done a callout to come to Minnesota: 

On the Facebook page, Big Igloo Bois, which at the time of writing had 30,637 followers, an administrator wrote of the (Minneapolis) protests, “If there was ever a time for bois to stand in solidarity with ALL free men and women in this country, it is now.”  They added, “This is not a race issue. For far too long we have allowed them to murder us in our homes, and in the streets. We need to stand with the people of Minneapolis. We need to support them in this protest against a system that allows police brutality to go unchecked.”  One commenter added, “I’m looking for fellow Minneapolis residents to join me in forming a private, Constitutionally-authorized militia to protect people from the MPD, which has killed too many people within the last two years.”

What are the “Boogaloo Bois”? Here’s more from Evans and Williams: 

These exchanges offer a window into an extremely online update of the militia movement, which is gearing up for the northern summer. The “Boogaloo Bois” expect, even hope, that the warmer weather will bring armed confrontations with law enforcement, and will build momentum towards a new civil war in the United States.  

Lovely. 

Max made an important point about what’s happening:

It’s frustrating to see people speaking with certainty right now. I get that certainty is appealing because there’s so much confusion and fear. But I really believe we have to be comfortable with ambiguity and contradictions as we work to figure out the truth.

A good caveat.

Correspond: [email protected] 

Stay safe. JPC

Update: I added a bit of context to the term “outside agitators” and changed the healine so as to limit confusion. And info about Carter’s claim that all/most of those arrested in St. Paul were not from Minnesota.