Unrest grips downtown Minneapolis; mayor declares curfew, governor activates National Guard

Unrest grips downtown Minneapolis; mayor declares curfew, governor activates National Guard
Police clear out and secure Saks OFF 5th Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis mayor imposed a curfew Wednesday night and requested National Guard help after unrest broke out downtown following what authorities said was misinformation about the death of a Black homicide suspect. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP) (Jeff Wheeler)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Public outrage following the Wednesday death of a man in downtown Minneapolis led to window smashing and looting, prompting Mayor Jacob Frey to impose a curfew and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to activate the National Guard to help restore order.

According to the Star Tribune, an unidentified man wanted in connection to a fatal shooting killed himself as police closed in, but rumors spread rapidly the man’s death had been at the hands of police.

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Despite the immediate release of surveillance video of the incident by police, widespread looting and rioting erupted, forcing Walz to declare a state of emergency in the city and mobilize the Minnesota National Guard, the Star Tribune reported.

The step came about three months after Walz’s mobilization of more than 5,000 guard members to assist during protests that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in late May, WCCO reported.

Frey also imposed a 10 p.m. curfew to curtail the unrest. Both he and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo stressed during a late evening news conference that the man’s death was unquestionably a suicide.

“This is a tragic incident for all involved. What the city needs now is healing, not more property destruction,” Frey said during the news conference.

The turmoil began following the city’s 52nd homicide of the year just after 2 p.m. Wednesday inside a garage involving three people. The victim was reportedly shot multiple times, police said.

Both a man and woman fled the scene, and the woman was taken into custody a brief while later. The male suspect was located by police just after 6 p.m., and the department released surveillance video that shows the man shooting himself and falling to the ground in the moments before officers reached him, WCCO reported.

Within an hour, a large crowd gathered near the scene of the shooting and some people began breaking out the windows of local businesses, the Star Tribune reported.

Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson addressed the media just after 9 p.m. and stated that false rumors spread on social media are making “us look bad again.”

“We’re going to do what we can do to maintain some order and regain some public trust, public safety in the city and the county. If you hurt people and break things … you’re going to go to jail,” Hutchinson said. “This is a metro-wide response to a bunch of people who don’t get information right and they just want to riot and loot for their own personal good.”

At Walz’s direction, the Minnesota State Patrol also sent 150 troopers to help with dispersing crowds, preventing looting and making arrests, WCCO reported.

According to the TV station, one of the first reported instances of arson during this unrest occurred at Brit’s Pub off just before 11:30 p.m. and was extinguished by Minneapolis firefighters about 15 minutes later. Looters also targeted a nearby medical supply store but were apprehended by officers on bicycles.