Houston Chronicle

Mayor blasts protest response

- By Todd Richmond and Mohamed Ibrahim

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — 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, launched fireworks, shaken a security fence surroundin­g 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.

People who live in the area say many of their neighbors are staying in hotels or with relatives to avoid the noise as well as the tear gas that seeps into their homes.

“We can’t just have our

window open any more without thinking about if there’s going to be some gas coming in,” said 16-year-old Xzavion Martin, adding that rubber bullets and other projectile­s have landed on his apartment’s second-story balcony. “There’s kids in this building that are really scared to come back.”

The tactics have not sat well with Brooklyn Center city officials, who passed a resolution Monday banning the city’s officers from using tear gas and other chemicals, chokeholds, and police lines to arrest demonstrat­ors.

Mayor Mike Elliott, who

is Black, said at a news conference Wednesday 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.

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.

Protests have continued since Potter was charged Wednesday with seconddegr­ee 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.

Sheriff David Hutchinson asked Elliott in a letter Wednesday to clarify whether he still wanted the department’s help. The mayor wrote in a letter Thursday that his city still needs help but pressed assisting

agencies not to engage with protesters.

“It is my view that as long as protesters are peaceful and not directly interactin­g with law enforcemen­t, law enforcemen­t should not engage with them,” Elliott wrote. “Again, this is a request and not an attempt to limit necessary law enforcemen­t response.”

Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat and commander-inchief of the Minnesota National Guard, said at a Thursday news conference that he’s concerned about tactics but that police are trying to protect the community.

 ?? Victor J. Blue / New York Times ?? People gather Thursday night in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, Minn., to protest the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by an officer Sunday during a traffic stop.
Victor J. Blue / New York Times People gather Thursday night in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, Minn., to protest the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by an officer Sunday during a traffic stop.

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