The city of Minneapolis imposed a curfew and asked the National Guard to return to its streets after renewed rioting and looting Wednesday night.
The unrest was sparked by untrue rumors that a man wanted for a fatal shooting who killed himself as police closed in had actually been shot by officers.
Police almost immediately shared surveillance video of the suicide, but it did little to calm crowds who broke windows at retail stores, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The sudden chaos prompted Gov. Tim Walz to declare an emergency in the city and mobilize the Minnesota National Guard and 150 State Patrol troopers. Mayor Jacob Frey also ordered a curfew from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday.
Metro Transit said service to downtown Minneapolis resumed Thursday morning.
At a late evening news conference, Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo stressed that the man killed himself earlier in the day and that it was not an “officer-involved shooting.”
“This is a tragic incident for all involved,” said Frey. “What the city needs now is healing, not more property destruction.”
Frey said he was ordering an immediate curfew with a formal declaration to follow. He didn’t say how long the curfew would last, but police began to make arrests later into the night.
The outbreak comes three months after George Floyd was killed during an encounter with Minneapolis police, sparking widespread protests and destruction along Lake Street and across parts of the Twin Cities. Protests were renewed three days ago when Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by Kenosha, Wis., police.
The man who died, who was Black and has not been identified, was wanted for the slaying of another man earlier that day in a downtown Minneapolis parking garage. He was on foot at 8th Street and Nicollet Mall at 6 p.m. When police pulled up, the suspect ducked into a doorway and shot himself in the head while onlookers scrambled away.
The event was captured on city surveillance video, which police released within 90 minutes. The video confirms the police account of what happened and shows the man glancing over his shoulder before pulling out the gun and firing, then collapsing to the ground as a half-dozen witnesses ran away with their hands in the air. The officers, one of whom had his gun drawn, ordered a remaining witness away and kicked the suspect’s gun away before trying to revive him with chest compressions.
Police spokesman John Elder said the department was able to release the city camera footage because the officers were not involved in deadly use of force. The officers’ body cameras were on, but those images won’t be immediately released, he said.
(The Star Tribune published a portion of the surveillance video showing the moments before the suspect’s death as debate about the cause of death sparked unrest. We have since removed the video because of its graphic nature and because immediate concerns about public safety have eased.)
Arradondo praised community leaders and groups who sent out information about the shooting and tried to stop any looting.
“This compounds the tragedy,” said Arradondo. “We will not allow more trauma. The city is still grieving from May 25.”
He also asked people to leave downtown and stressed that property damage won’t be tolerated.
“This is my city,” he said. “We will clear downtown.”
One officer was injured, but Arradondo said the injuries weren’t significant.
Immediately after the suicide, a hostile crowd swiftly grew into the hundreds as police tried to cordon off the area and form a perimeter. As darkness fell, most of the crowd was peaceful, but some broke out the windows of Nordstrom Rack, while others tried to enter Target as the security gates closed. Officers occasionally sprayed a chemical deterrent and arrested a few people attempting to loot the Foot Locker. An activist walked through the crowd with a megaphone attempting to calm the crowd, saying, “We have the video. The man killed himself.”
Around 10 p.m. a crowd remained in the heart of downtown but was mostly peaceful as police blocked off large areas.
“They keep killing us,” said Marques Gales, explaining why he came. “Every day of my life I wake up and I’ve got to fear for my life.” Tre Brown, Jay Jamison and a pair of other friends came downtown. They were still unclear on what had happened when they arrived, but later said they weren’t convinced that the man killed himself.
“The past two years, three years, this has been happening how many times, it’s uncountable,” Jamison said.
Chance Trotter, who wore a Black Lives Matter sweatshirt, said he came out just to take everything in. He said he’d heard what happened and had seen the video.
“I’m just out here. This is my city,” he said, adding that he wasn’t surprised that protesters took to downtown. “It’s just a matter of time when it’s going to happen it’s going to happen.”
Staff writers David Chanen, Liz Sawyer and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.