Mpls officials call roving July 4 fireworks fights reckless, callous

During the late hours of the Fourth of July and into the early morning hours of July 5, Minneapolis residents began posting videos to social media showing groups of young people in downtown Minneapolis shooting fireworks into buildings, at police cars and at each other.  

A resident who lives at the corner of South Second Street and Portland Avenue, where much of the activity occurred, sent FOX 9 the video above. He described a chaotic night in which young people drove cars at high speeds around tight corners, with some hanging out car windows or sunroofs while shooting fireworks. 

"It was like a war zone. I mean, everything was lit up. There was smoke billowing from everywhere," said Bruce, who asked that we not use his last name, told FOX 9. 

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Bruce said he started hearing fireworks on the street around 10 p.m. on July 4 and called 911 several times, but operators told him police were already on the scene when he couldn't see any officers from his apartment window, which overlooks the intersection. He says about two hours passed before he finally saw a patrol car - then someone in the crowd on the street shot fireworks at it. 

"These guys were firing their fireworks right at the car. And there was a series of four police cars and they were firing at those four," Bruce said.

When the police came, the crowd would take out cell phones to film officers, who pleaded with them to go home, Bruce said. As soon as the officers left, the group started shooting fireworks again.

Bruce has been a resident of the neighborhood for the last two years. He loves city life and believes some crime is to be expected, but what happened last night has him worried.  

"I like to go bike and run and kayak on the river and all that stuff, so it's been fantastic, the restaurants and everything. There's definitely crime that you got to watch out for, but last night was just a whole different level," he said. 

Unsanctioned fireworks displays happened near the Stone Arch Bridge, Gold Medal Park and Mill District resulting in more than 1,300 calls were made to 911. Typically, that number of calls would come in a 24-hour span. 

In response to the night of unsanctioned fireworks, Minneapolis authorities held a press conference Tuesday evening.

"This reckless and callous disregard for our city puts a damper on a weekend that should otherwise be celebrated. This is conduct that should not be acceptable in any city… the violence, recklessness and idiotic behavior we saw shouldn’t be, and won’t be tolerated," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. "We need to make sure we’re holding the perpetrators of these crimes accountable. It’s our responsibility to try and curb this reckless behavior."

Frey noted that the city would be strategizing ways to "both hold perpetrators accountable and respond in a timely nature," saying that In the future the city would be hiring a new commissioner of the Office of Public Safety to help bring on a more "comprehensive approach."

"While we have a job as a city, it’s on the community as well," Frey said. "If you have children that were out last night, you need to know where they are. We need to hold one another accountable. This kind of garbage cannot bet tolerated in any city, and it’s our responsibility to ensure it doesn’t happen here."

According to MPD interim chief Amelia Huffman, as of June 18, the MPD has 564 active officers and the city is relying on voluntary overtime for any additional bolstering of resources.

"We are absolutely not satisfied with current staffing levels. The long-term solution to provide the best possible service is to provide high quality, community-oriented officers," Huffman said.

Huffman sad that the MPD was forced to hold over their entire mid-shift and bring all response cars downtown, in an effort to restore order in the city.

"It’s difficult to engage with a group when they’re shooting fireworks at you, and to do so in a safe manner." Minneapolis Police deputy chief Erick Fors said.

FOX 9 has reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department for further comment.