Minnesota mayor blasts police tactics to control protesters

A demonstrator heckles authorities who advanced into a gas station after issuing orders for crowds to disperse during a protest against the police shooting of Daunte Wright, late Monday, April 12, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A demonstrator heckles authorities who advanced into a gas station after issuing orders for crowds to disperse during a protest against the police shooting of Daunte Wright, late Monday, April 12, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Elliott said at a news conference that he doesn't agree with police using pepper spray, tear gas and paintballs during demonstrations.

Posted: Apr 16, 2021 1:37 PM

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. (AP) — Elected leaders in the Minneapolis suburb where a police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright want officers to scale back their tactics amid nightly protests, leaving some law enforcement called in to assist asking whether the city still wants their help.

Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered outside the heavily guarded Brooklyn Center police station every night since former Officer Kim Potter, who is white, shot the 20-year-old Black motorist during a traffic stop on Sunday. Protesters have shouted profanities and at times shaken a security fence police erected outside the building and lobbed water bottles at officers. Police have driven away protesters with tear gas grenades, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and long lines of riot police.

Xzavion Martin, 16, lives in an apartment across the street from the police station. He said rubber bullets and other projectiles have landed on his second-story balcony and tear gas has seeped inside.

"We can’t just have our window open any more without thinking about if there’s going to be some gas coming in,” he said. “There’s kids in this building that are really scared to come back. They are in hotels because of this.”

The tactics have not sat well with Brooklyn Center city officials.

Mayor Mike Elliott, who is Black, said at a news conference that “gassing is not a human way of policing” and he didn’t agree with police using pepper spray, tear gas and paintballs against demonstrators. Elliott didn’t respond to multiple messages Friday morning.

Protests have continued since Potter was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter. The former police chief in the majority nonwhite suburb said Potter fired her pistol when she meant to use her Taser, but protesters and Wright's family say there's no excuse for the shooting. Both Potter and the chief resigned Tuesday.

The Brooklyn Center City Council on Monday passed a resolution banning the city’s officers from using tear gas and other chemicals, chokeholds and using police lines to arrest demonstrators. The resolution also allows protesters to videotape police.

But Brooklyn Center police aren’t dealing with protesters on their own. Other agencies, including the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department and the Minnesota National Guard, have provided support at the city’s request in a joint effort dubbed Operation Safety Net. The city’s resolution isn’t binding on those agencies.

Sheriff David Hutchinson asked Elliott in a letter on Wednesday to clarify whether he still wanted the department’s help.

“The city’s actions since Sunday evening have created significant confusion,” Hutchinson wrote. “In order to maintain peace and safety, it is critical that the City of Brooklyn Center communicate with its State, County, and local law enforcement partners regarding its ongoing need for mutual aid.”

A spokesman for Hutchinson's department had no immediately comment when asked about whether the back-and-forth with the city has resulted in any tactical changes or agencies pulling out. Messages left with Operation Safety Net and the office of Gov. Tim Walz, who doubles as commander-in-chief of the Minnesota National Guard, were not immediately returned Friday.

Walz, a Democrat, said at a Thursday news conference that he’s concerned about tactics but that police are trying to protect the community.

Tensions in the area were already high amid the nearby trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death last year of George Floyd. The release Thursday of graphic police body camera footage showing a Chicago officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a Hispanic boy, in March has further enflamed the situation.

Brooklyn Center has instituted a curfew each night, but in the last few nights, the gatherings have been declared unlawful well before then.

Local Progress Minnesota, a group of liberal-leaning local elected officials, echoed the call for an end to using tear gas and said curfew declarations should also end.

“The last few nights have been marred with unconscionable acts of oppression,” the group said in a letter. “This is not how we build a safer place for one another.”

Walz told reporters that protesters might have burned down the police station and other buildings if police hadn't intervened — lessons he learned after a Minneapolis police station burned during protests last year over Floyd's death. Those demonstrations damaged more than 1,000 buildings across the Twin Cities area.

“I've learned from the past,” Walz said. “(The Brooklyn Center station) would have been burned down, and my fear is the surrounding apartments would have been burned, too. I trust our safety officials to be very judicious and think about this.”

Police say Wright was pulled over for expired tags, but they sought to arrest him after discovering he had an outstanding warrant. The warrant was for his failure to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.

Body camera video shows Wright struggling with police after they say they’re going to arrest him. Potter, a 26-year veteran, pulls her service pistol and is heard repeatedly yelling “Taser!” before firing. She then says, “Holy (expletive), I shot him.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 591445

Reported Deaths: 7367
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1224421730
Ramsey51212875
Dakota45791452
Anoka41604438
Washington26834283
Stearns22196222
St. Louis17734303
Scott17244124
Wright16009139
Olmsted1322598
Sherburne1167187
Carver1047545
Clay814492
Rice8037107
Blue Earth749641
Crow Wing663189
Kandiyohi654283
Chisago596651
Otter Tail574078
Benton568297
Goodhue477272
Douglas466375
Mower464832
Winona453950
Itasca435556
McLeod422559
Isanti419664
Morrison418260
Nobles407648
Beltrami394459
Steele386715
Polk383568
Becker379751
Lyon360251
Carlton345054
Freeborn341529
Pine327822
Nicollet325643
Brown305040
Mille Lacs303253
Le Sueur290922
Todd281632
Cass271328
Meeker255740
Waseca235922
Martin230531
Roseau209019
Wabasha20513
Hubbard188341
Dodge18453
Renville179743
Redwood174037
Houston171616
Cottonwood164821
Fillmore155910
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Chippewa152138
Faribault152119
Kanabec144326
Sibley143110
Aitkin134736
Watonwan13219
Rock128119
Jackson121712
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11006
Murray10619
Swift105218
Stevens90411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86616
Koochiching82715
Wilkin81112
Lake80919
Lac qui Parle75222
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5748
Mahnomen5469
Norman5399
Unassigned48993
Kittson48622
Red Lake3957
Traverse3695
Lake of the Woods3243
Cook1620

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366827

Reported Deaths: 5937
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57596625
Linn20845335
Scott20025241
Black Hawk15803308
Woodbury15128228
Johnson1447483
Dubuque13368208
Dallas1117898
Pottawattamie11113168
Story1061248
Warren577088
Clinton555593
Cerro Gordo539789
Sioux514474
Webster512393
Marshall482975
Muscatine480799
Des Moines455766
Wapello4299122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418872
Plymouth401180
Lee375755
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291637
Carroll285752
Bremer284360
Crawford266440
Boone264534
Benton256455
Washington254150
Dickinson248343
Mahaska230351
Jackson221742
Clay215525
Kossuth215364
Delaware209541
Tama209571
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan191232
Cedar190023
Hardin185243
Fayette185041
Wright184637
Hamilton179849
Harrison179573
Clayton169456
Butler164934
Mills162322
Madison162219
Floyd160542
Cherokee158738
Lyon157941
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151551
Iowa148724
Hancock147834
Winnebago142431
Cass138554
Calhoun138413
Grundy136333
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128049
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124015
Guthrie121530
Franklin120021
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112723
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9710
Keokuk95831
Monroe95229
Ida90535
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis82924
Monona82830
Osceola78616
Greene77610
Lucas77323
Worth7478
Taylor65812
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55818
Ringgold55624
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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