Minneapolis PD Chief: George Floyd protests shifted Wednesday to core group 'focused on causing destruction'

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said his department did not have the resources to handle the large and mobile crowd that turned violent Wednesday night amid protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. 

The second day of protests at the Third Precinct started relatively peaceful with demonstrators calling for the officers involved in Floyd’s death to be charged. But throughout the night, the protests devolved into some people setting fires and looting businesses across south Minneapolis. 

Arradondo said his officers were prepared for protests in the area near the Third Precinct, but resources became an issue when the crowd became larger and more mobile. 

“Our number one priority is the preservation of life,” the chief said at a press conference Thursday. “We wanted to make sure that we were looking at that for those who were gathering peacefully in the area who were also being threatened and at risk, our neighboring residents and also those businesses. There was a shift that certainly occurred last night.” 

The chief said the dynamic of the protest changed from the night before. While the vast majority of people that have gathered to protest have been peaceful, he said on Wednesday night there was a core group of people focused on causing destruction. 

Arradondo said many of those people that are not believed to have come from outside the city of Minneapolis. 

“It was clear to me and also hearing from our local community leaders that many of the people that were involved in the criminal conduct last night were not known Minneapolitans to them,” the chief said. “So yes, there were certainly people who were involved in the activities last night who were not recognized as being from the city.” 

Arradondo said some police officers as well as community members suffered minor injuries during the riots overnight. 

The Minneapolis Fire Department reports it responded to 30 intentionally set fires over the course of the night. Some businesses such as the AutoZone at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue and a nearby apartment building that was under construction, were completely destroyed. 

The destruction spanned the nearly the entire length of Lake Street from the river to Uptown with many businesses ransacked by looters. 

City leaders made a plea for calm in the city Thursday. 

“I want to remind all of the people that are in the streets protesting, you have every absolute to be angry, to be upset, to be mad, to express your anger,” said City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins. “However, you have NO right to perpetrate violence and harm on the very communities that you say that you are standing up for. We need peace, calm in our streets and I am begging you for that calm.” 

Arradondo said he knows the community is experiencing trauma and trying to find ways to heal. He said while he respects peoples’ right to protest, he is committed to “restoring peace and security in our community.”

“I cannot allow criminal acts to occur and threaten the safety and compound the trauma that continues to exist,” he said.