Minneapolis reeling after fourth night of chaos

By: and - May 30, 2020 10:33 am

Protesters chanted “No justice. No peace.” in front of National Guard soldiers as firefighters sprayed water on a burning gas station in south Minneapolis. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Minneapolis descended into chaos for the fourth night Friday despite an 8 p.m. curfew, as suspected outsiders lit fires and looted businesses across the city.

Peaceful demonstrators assembled near the Minneapolis police Third Precinct and marched down I-35W early in the evening to protest against police for the killing of George Floyd, but the tone changed as darkness fell. The curfew didn’t deter thousands from staying out until the early hours of Saturday morning, and by many accounts law enforcement were nowhere to be seen as fires raged throughout the night.

Early in the evening, demonstrators near the Third Precinct made clear they wouldn’t abide by the curfew implemented by Mayor Jacob Frey unless all four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were charged. The National Guard used tear gas and ordered protesters to go home moments before the 8 p.m. curfew, and some of the crowd dispersed.

Major fires were reported around the city’s Fifth Precinct near Nicollet Ave. and 31st St. after hundreds gathered there. A U.S. post office, Stop N Shop, Wells Fargo Bank and a Shell gas station went up in flames.

Local law enforcement, firefighters and the National Guard seemingly disappeared as mayhem intensified. Officials said Saturday morning they did not have the manpower to respond, and that National Guard and first responders were being attacked with bullets and improvised explosive devices. 

Many Black, Native and immigrant residents said law enforcement and the National Guard abandoned their neighborhood and state lawmakers called on the governor and mayor to do more to protect them.

“The city of Minneapolis has a responsibility to put out fires and protect its residents. The fire on Park Ave is reaching a residential area and there is a gas station nearby. For our city’s leadership to say they won’t send a firetruck is irresponsible,” Representative Hodan Hassan wrote in a tweet.

Sharone, who declined to give his last name, was distraught at the violence and destruction as midnight approached. He runs a tow-trucking company nearby and uses the gas station multiple times a day.

“They’re letting the fucking white guys fuck up everything in our neighborhood,” he said, standing outside a burning gas station at Lake Street and Park Avenue. “This shit is fucking terrible. This shit is out of hand, man. Now where the fuck am I going to get diesel from every day?”

By many accounts, civilians took to the streets in an effort to protect businesses, homes and their own neighbors.

The American Indian Movement — founded in 1968 in Minneapolis in response to police brutality — received an exemption from the curfew so the AIM Patrol could protect Native businesses and homes, according to member Tammey Skinaway.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Rick, who declined to give his last name, was using his pickup truck to clear smashed cars off the road in case of evacuation. Protesters directed traffic and handed out snacks, water and gauze.

Saturday morning, state officials said the city is under attack by criminals from outside Minnesota who want to destroy civil society. About 80% of Friday night’s rioters were not from Minnesota, Walz estimated. 

“For those Minnesotans who are wondering ‘Where are the fire trucks? Where are the police that are out there?’ The situation was so broad and the tactics were so bent on causing destruction that every single person we had mobilized last night . . . was engaged in that,” Walz said.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.

Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.