Demonstrators lean against each other and watch as hundreds of demonstrators chant at the police barricades at Brooklyn Center Police Department for the fourth night of protests Wednesday, April 14, 2021 after former officer Kimberly Potter shot and killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop earlier in the week. Photo by Nicole Neri/Minnesota Reformer.
Hundreds of demonstrators crowded in front of the Brooklyn Center police station on Wednesday in a fourth night of protests of the police shooting and killing Daunte Wright during a traffic stop on Sunday.
Hours after second-degree manslaughter charges were brought against former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, clashes between demonstrators and police started early in the evening through a chain link fence erected around the police station.
Some protesters lobbed water bottles, bricks and fireworks over the fence into the line of law enforcement, including National Guard members, State Patrol officers and Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies. They responded with rubber bullets and pepper spray, but notably no tear gas, following an outcry from some activists and elected officials including Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott about its use on previous nights.
Many protesters came prepared for chemical irritants, wearing gas masks and goggles. Some even brought leaf blowers to fan the pepper spray back into the line of police. Some also carried umbrellas to shield themselves from rubber bullets and mace while chanting “No Justice, No Peace,” and “F*** 12,” referring to a slang term for police.
Meghan Moody, 20, came to Brooklyn Center from nearby Golden Valley for the first time on Wednesday night.
Moody, who is white, said she found herself at the front of the protest and then was shot in the ankle by a rubber bullet. Volunteer medics wearing fluorescent yellow vests pulled her out of the crowd and bandaged her injury, as they did for numerous others over the course of the night.
“It’s just outrageous,” Moody said. “What the police are doing is unacceptable.”
Asked if she would go home after being shot, Moody said no. “Because Black lives matter.”
Law enforcement declared the protest to be an unlawful assembly over a loudspeaker about an hour before the city’s 10 p.m. curfew. A female voice asking people to disperse was drowned out by boos from the crowd.
Around 10:20 p.m., scores of law enforcement officers chanting “Move” in unison marched shoulder-to-shoulder into the crowd in front of the police station, clearing the block as demonstrators scattered, leaving behind dozens of umbrellas, water bottles and makeshift wooden barriers.
Police moved in in formation and cleared the area in front of the Brooklyn Center police station pic.twitter.com/lMkqsQLDQA
— Max Nesterak (@maxnesterak) April 15, 2021
Police officers, some with riot shields or batons, moved in tight formation through the residential neighborhood, surrounding apartment buildings and dispersing people further away from the police station.
Samira Hassan, 20, who is Black, said police were making the situation worse by using force to disperse and in some cases arrest demonstrators.*
Minutes after talking to the Reformer, Hassan was tackled and arrested by law enforcement officers along with her brother.
Fox News reporter Lauren Blanchard reported being detained with her crew as they tried to leave the area. She took video of them on their knees as State Patrol officers took pictures of their IDs.
Partial video of my crew and I as we tried to leave the area. Police had blocked everyone in. We were ordered on our knees – hands up. They took pics of all of our IDs pic.twitter.com/NbWZm3jWpv
— Lauren Blanchard (@LaurenBlanch12) April 15, 2021
During a midnight press conference, law enforcement officials said the night was calmer than previous nights, with about two dozen people arrested compared to more than 70 on Tuesday.
“It was almost uneventful,” Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said. “The anxiety and the stress seem to be lower, even though emotions are still high, and that is exactly what we hope to see continue the rest of this week.”
Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson said the majority of people arrested were not residents of Brooklyn Center, which has a population of about 30,000 people.
He defended the use of force to disperse the crowd, saying officers were determined to stop criminal activity.
“We are not going to abandon the people of Brooklyn Center no matter what,” Hutchinson said.
National Guard soldiers stood guard across the Twin Cities metro. There was no looting in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis or St. Paul on Wednesday night.
*This story has been corrected by removing some comments by Samira Hassan, who was not truthful during her interview with the Reformer. See here for more.
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