Protesters gathered again Saturday night at the Uptown Minneapolis site where a federal task force shot and killed Winston Smith on Thursday.
As of 10:30 p.m. Saturday, there had been no arrests. But the night before, 27 people were arrested at the site for "riotous behavior," said police spokesman John Elder. Of the 27 arrests, 26 were for probable-cause rioting and one was for probable-cause weapons possession, Elder said. Protesters burned dumpsters and trees and vandalized some properties.
On Saturday night, a crowd converged on W. Lake Street outside the parking garage where Smith was killed and blocked off the street. Somebody had scrawled "Hold police accountable" on the garage, and a series of anti-police slogans marked the streets and exterior of the Libertine restaurant.
"There's a lot of things that have happened since George Floyd that show the state of Minnesota isn't really serious about police reform," said Trahern Crews, lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Minnesota.
Normally the epicenter of weekend partying, the stretch near Hennepin Avenue took on a serious tone as the crowd recited Smith's name, repeated anti-police chants and demanded justice.
"Whose street?" somebody shouted into a megaphone. "Our street!" the crowd roared back.
A protester who identified himself as only Al J. reported that about 40 percent of the motorists driving by on Hennepin Avenue appeared "mildly exasperated" and one threatened to call police. But others, he said, honked their horns and raised fists in solidarity.
Business at Stella's Fish Café, where Smith had his final meal, appeared to go on as usual while protestors shouted outside.
Smith's brother, Kidale Smith, grabbed the microphone and called for anyone who was at Stella's on Thursday to share what they knew. "I want the U.S. marshals to come down and face me," he said.
After about an hour, the protesters began a short march.
Members of a federal fugitive task force shot and killed Smith during an attempted arrest Thursday afternoon in an Uptown parking ramp. State investigators say Smith, 32, fired a gun from his vehicle as deputies closed in, but there is no body camera or squad dash-cam footage.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating, said members of a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force approached Smith, who was in a parked car atop a parking ramp at W. Lake Street and S. Fremont Avenue.
Authorities said task force members were tipped off to the location of a man wanted on a warrant for being a felon in possession of a gun and tried to arrest him. A preliminary investigation shows that a Hennepin County sheriff's deputy and a Ramsey County deputy shot Smith, reportedly after he brandished a gun. Smith died at the scene.
Authorities say they recovered a handgun and spent shell casings from Smith's car, suggesting that he fired a weapon at some point. A 27-year-old woman who was also in the car was injured by shattered glass.
State authorities say there is no squad camera footage and the officers weren't wearing body cameras because they were operating under the rules of the U.S. Marshals North Star Fugitive Task Force, which they say doesn't allow the devices.
Several police departments across the country, including St. Paul, have pulled officers from federal task forces in recent years because they weren't allowed to wear body cameras. Last October, the U.S. Department of Justice said it had changed its policy to permit state, local, territorial and tribal task forces to use body-worn cameras "while serving arrest warrants or during other planned arrest operations and during the execution of search warrants."
On Saturday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Minnesota issued a statement confirming the change in policy to permit task force officers to wear body cameras, adding that the U.S. Marshals Service has been phasing in that policy since February.
Asked about that statement, Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon said his previwous claim that the task force involved in Thursday's situation "currently" does not allow the use of body cameras was correct and that the U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for phasing in their use. He did not indicate whether the BCA, which is overseen by the DPS, will look into the lack of body cameras on the agents or deputies who shot Smith.
Maya Rao • 612-673-4210 Staff writers Andy Mannix and Pamela Miller contributed to this report.