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OT - Minneapolis, May 25 - June 1, 2020

Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:09 pm

tseeb emailed me last week to ask how things were in Minneapolis. I found myself writing a long response and then building upon what I had written as the days and nights passed and I responded to more emails from concerned friends and family. Here's the gist:

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We live about 3/4 of a mile, as the crow flies, northeast of the corner of 38th St. and Chicago Ave. S. where George Floyd was killed (about a 1 and 1/4 miles on city streets). We are also about 1/2 a mile southwest as the crow flies from the 3rd Precinct police station (about a mile on the streets) that was ground zero for the violent protests, clashes with police, looting and burning.

It is really distressing and really makes us sad to see so much of our city, especially so close to home, destroyed and degraded. It is all in such stark contrast to the grace with which our city, and especially our part of the city, had handled coronavirus and lockdown restrictions. Before George Floyd was murdered, neighborhood homeowners seemed to be taking extra pride in their flowers and gardening, a great deal more public art appeared around the neighborhood, and children all around the city seemed to have suddenly learned how to specialize in very creative, interactive and uplifting sidewalk chalk illustrations and writings. Neighborhood businesses had been doing their best to step up their takeout, curbside pickup and delivery games and had mostly done so with a smile and often with artistic flourish.

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George Floyd was killed on the evening of Memorial Day, Monday May 25.

In the rain on the night of Tuesday May 26, peaceful protests of thousands at 38th and Chicago Ave S followed by a march to the 3rd Precinct police station devolved into a chaotic confrontation between low hundreds of young people and the cops. The cops were provoked by damage to their cruisers and building. They responded with the usual full teenage-mutant-ninja-turtle style body armor and riot gear, rubber bullets, teargas and marker rounds. Due to the rain and the relatively low numbers of people involved, we didn’t notice much on our block.

On Wednesday May 27, the protests at the 3rd Precinct station were much larger and peaceful during the day. Looting started at the Target across the street before dark. After dark, violent confrontation between the remaining large crowd and the police went on for hours and several buildings around the intersection of Lake St E and Minnehaha Ave were burned. The soundscape from our front porch on the night of Wednesday May 27 was disturbing, with endless sirens and circling helicopters overhead. In the morning everything smelled of smoke and our house and yard were sprinkled with ash, some of it quite large.

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Late in the afternoon of Thursday May 28, I went for a bike ride into the belly of the beast at a time when everything was relatively peaceful.

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Many people, including myself, witnessed people on Thursday afternoon parking their cars far from the action and walking toward the site of the most intense protesting and rioting with lots of gear, equipment and supplies clearly intended for use in confrontation with the police. The ones dressed all in black with gear such as gas masks, helmets and backpacks carried no signs. I spotted cars parked around our neighborhood with plates from Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Virginia.

The soundscape on the night of Thursday night was worse than the previous nights. Like many of our neighbors, we stayed awake until late in the evening on the front porch following live twitter feeds from reporters for the Minneapolis Star Tribune who were at the scene and aerial footage streamed from local TV news. We could correlate reports of the police using stun grenades, the protesters/looters setting off fireworks, and gunshots with the sounds we were hearing from the front porch. Additionally, there were almost always at least two helicopters circling overhead pretty much constantly from dark at about 9 PM until daylight Friday morning. Once the police abandoned the precinct house and it was set on fire, the sirens ended and the fireworks greatly increased. Sometimes we could even hear cheering of the gathered crowds. In addition, because there were no police on the streets, we began to hear a lot of what sounded like drag racing up and down Lake Street 4 ½ blocks north of our house. Fortunately, none of the violence, few of the people, and little of the traffic spilled over into our part of the neighborhood. There was scattered looting and burning all over Minneapolis and St. Paul Thursday night.

I went for another bike ride to survey the damage on the afternoon of Friday May 29.

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On Friday, once Derek Chauvin had been charged with murder and taken into custody, the 3rd Precinct had burned, and the authorities told us the National Guard and State Patrol would be out on the streets. We were hoping the night would be quieter, but frankly did not expect it. Business owners all over south Minneapolis, not just near the sites of prior protests, were boarding up that afternoon.

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Overnight Friday into Saturday our neighborhood was quieter than it had been the two previous nights. All the action was further to the west. However, in other parts of the city, the state and local police and National Guard were totally overwhelmed.

On the afternoon of Saturday May 30, I went for a bike ride on E. Lake St. from Minnehaha (the 3rd Precinct police station) to Nicollet Ave, the worst hit part of Minneapolis. The devastation around the area of the 3rd Precinct and around the intersection of Chicago Ave S and Lake St is hard to describe or capture in pictures.

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In between, it was not as bad as I had feared. I’m tired of the word “surreal” but it’s hard to find another word that works. Literally every store front had been preemptively boarded up for the 1.25 mile in between Minnehaha Ave and 10th Ave S, with the exception of one lucky dry cleaner.

Most of these businesses appeared to be at least un-torched. Traffic was bumper-to-bumper, likely with gawkers, and very slow moving all along Lake Street. The sidewalks were full of pedestrians, at least a third of whom were carrying brooms, buckets, dust pans and heavy garbage bags and were cleaning up. I had never seen Lake Street so clean. For miles there was not a shard of glass or speck of trash to be found on the street or on the sidewalks. The sidewalks were so full of these citizen street sweepers that in order for me to maintain safe social distance I had to ride slowly in traffic.

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I passed several impromptu free food pop ups providing everything from snacks and water bottles to full bags of groceries for families.

At 35W, I ran into a peaceful march many blocks long. People from all walks of life are out on the street. The mood was sad, but not at all surly.

Saturday afternoon many people left town before the freeways closed. Homeowners in residential neighborhoods were encouraged to do things like put their garbage cans and recycling bins away, to hose down wooden fences and remove anything from their yards that could be thrown or burned. The atmosphere as everybody waited to see what would happen was very, very tense.

Saturday night Governor Walz put the entirety of what the Minnesota National Guard had been able to muster (4,100) out on the streets along with the State Patrol and the MPD. The freeways in and out of the city were shut down around six or seven in the evening, and curfew went into effect at 8 PM. For the first time since this all started, the Minneapolis police Department was present on the streets, not just around their stations. The helicopters overhead Saturday night were mostly military Blackhawks, which was a change. At 10:30 or 11pm, a peaceful march, that was nonetheless illegal due to the curfew, went across 19th Ave. at 32nd St., two blocks from our house. Even from there, the clouds of teargas that billowed down our street were almost choking. Along with many of our neighbors, we sat on our front porch or out in the front yard listening, watching, and following online until a bit after midnight when it became clear that things were much more under control than they had been any night since Tuesday. The city made it through the night with little property damage and no arson, although there were well-documented instances of clearly-identified journalists and homeowners being fired upon with non-lethal rounds.

Sunday morning, the acrid smoke that had hung all around south Minneapolis was finally gone.

The night of Sunday May 31 was relatively calm.

Our block breathed a big sigh of relief yesterday and in the evening we all joined each other for a couple hours of social-distancing beers in our front yards.

Stay safe everybody.

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Re: OT - Minneapolis, May 25 - June 1, 2020

Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:36 pm

Thanks for the insight from a truly local perspective. If only the world could have access to similar 'media'. The lack of obvious spin or agenda is refreshing.

Re: OT - Minneapolis, May 25 - June 1, 2020

Wed Jun 03, 2020 10:42 am

Sbooker wrote:Thanks for the insight from a truly local perspective. If only the world could have access to similar 'media'. The lack of obvious spin or agenda is refreshing.

+1

Leadville, Colorado yesterday around noon:
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At 10,164 feet I think Leadville is the highest inhabited town in the USA.

Re: OT - Minneapolis, May 25 - June 1, 2020

Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:53 pm

flyover wrote:Along with many of our neighbors, we sat on our front porch or out in the front yard listening, watching, and following online until a bit after midnight when it became clear that things were much more under control than they had been any night since Tuesday. The city made it through the night with little property damage and no arson, although there were well-documented instances of clearly-identified journalists and homeowners being fired upon with non-lethal rounds.
I'm kind of cherry-picking here and you did say "homeowners being fired upon", but what was up with video I saw, where National Guard fired upon people on their porches after telling them to get inside.

Not that my City was better as they fired hundreds of non-lethal rounds at as far as we can tell non-violent protesters including shooting guy in the testicles who gave them anti-bias training and who was trying to defuse protest. (See https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/06/ ... t-protest/ or https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/202 ... licit-bias There are at least a couple of videos where Police knocked cell phones out of protester hands who were recording them. One cop got knocked out for doing that which made situation worse. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVLzmGjgu5k

Re: OT - Minneapolis, May 25 - June 1, 2020

Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:49 pm

tseeb wrote:I'm kind of cherry-picking here and you did say "homeowners being fired upon", but what was up with video I saw, where National Guard fired upon people on their porches after telling them to get inside.


Here's the video you reference: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nat ... 123781001/"; - National Guard and MPD. It is worth noting that the curfew order required citizens to be off the streets and not in public spaces, allowed them to be outside of their homes in the yard or on a porch or patio, but required them to follow "instructions" of "peace officers." IMO the homeowner and her guests in the linked video were not given much time to understand or comply.

Here's a Saint Paul Pioneer Press article from May 31 that summarizes reports by the press of being fired upon, teargassed and arrested by MPD/National Guard/State Patrol: https://www.twincities.com/2020/05/30/j ... -protests/";

Video of how the MPD treated a clearly-identified reporter for Vice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDG__s6AdNo"; - If you don't have time to watch the entire minute and eleven seconds, just jump to :27. Again, it's worth noting that the curfew order exempted the press.

It also turns out that "peace officers" were also slashing tires during the unrest: https://www.startribune.com/officers-sl ... 571105692/";

I was happy to see the arson stop (so far, every arrest for arson of which I am aware has involved suspects that do not live within the city of Minneapolis), but feel strongly that for many reasons the MPD, State Patrol and National Guard should have been trained, ordered, and held accountable for enforcing the curfew in a much more professional manor.

I will say that better decisions were made on subsequent nights of the curfew when authorities decided to leave alone post-curfew peaceful protest and vigil at the corner where George Floyd was murdered.

Re: OT - Minneapolis, May 25 - June 1, 2020

Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:52 am

Probably interesting for Flyover:
https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/minneapo ... ising.html

Re: OT - Minneapolis, May 25 - June 1, 2020

Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:48 am

From https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/08/ ... -backlash/
Sorry if behind paywall, but it includes the following:
According to the new memo, “projectile impact weapons will only be used in situations where a person is actively attacking an officer or another person or when an armed agitator poses a threat to officers or other peaceful protesters.”
Does that mean what they were doing on the first day of protests was wrong?
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