Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Minn. mayor blasts police tactics to control protests

Some asking if Brooklyn Center still wants help

- 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-yearold 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 anymore 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. Elliott didn’t respond to multiple messages Friday.

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.”

Sheriff’s spokesman Jeremy Zoss said Friday that no agencies have pulled out of Brooklyn Center. Scott Wasserman, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said Operation Safety Net’s tactics will not change.

Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat and commanderi­n-chief 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.

Shay Jones, who lives in an apartment across the street from the police station, said her 15-yearold daughter has been sick since tear gas seeped into their home. Jones, 32, also said some protesters broke a lock on the building, running through the stairs and hallways and writing on walls.

“All these ‘booms,’” she said. “Oh, man ... you can’t even sleep at night.”

Tensions were already high amid the nearby trial of former Minneapoli­s officer Derek Chauvin in the death last year of George Floyd. Then on Thursday, Chicago officials released graphic video showing an officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a Latino boy, in March.

And on Friday, transcript­s were released showing that a grand jury investigat­ing the police suffocatio­n death of Daniel Prude last year in Rochester, N.Y., voted 15-5 not to charge the three officers involved in his restraint.

Brooklyn Center has instituted curfews since Wright’s death.

Local Progress Minnesota, a group of liberal-leaning local elected officials, echoed the call for an end to using tear gas and criticized the curfews.

“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.

 ??  ?? Hundreds of demonstrat­ors have gathered outside the heavily guarded Brooklyn Center police station every night since a Black motorist was killed.
Hundreds of demonstrat­ors have gathered outside the heavily guarded Brooklyn Center police station every night since a Black motorist was killed.
 ?? PHOTOS BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Protests have continued in Brooklyn Center, Minn., since former police officer Kim Potter was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaught­er in the death of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
PHOTOS BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Protests have continued in Brooklyn Center, Minn., since former police officer Kim Potter was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaught­er in the death of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop.
 ?? Potter ??
Potter
 ?? BEN CRUMP LAW PLLC VIA THE AP ?? Daunte Wright is shown with his son, Daunte Jr. Wright, 20, was killed during a traffic stop by a white suburban Minneapoli­s police officer on Sunday.
BEN CRUMP LAW PLLC VIA THE AP Daunte Wright is shown with his son, Daunte Jr. Wright, 20, was killed during a traffic stop by a white suburban Minneapoli­s police officer on Sunday.

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