An overnight standoff at the Fourth Precinct police station in north Minneapolis between police and Black Lives Matters protesters became increasingly hostile throughout the evening as police sprayed mace and fired rubber rounds into the crowds.
BLM activists have been camping out at the Fourth Precinct since Sunday afternoon, demanding the release of footage that captured the shooting death of Jamar Clark by a Minneapolis police officer. BLM believes video will show that Clark was handcuffed and lying on the ground when he was executed in point blank range and not reaching for an officer’s gun while harassing a domestic assault victim, as the cops claim.
Police Chief Janeé Harteau ordered the removal of the protesters’ encampment at the door of the precinct Wednesday afternoon because they blocked ordinary citizens from reporting crimes, police said. The chief also demanded maximum restraint.
That order did not exclude the use of mace.
Late into the night, after protesters had spent hours shouting into the cops’ faces and the cops had attempted several maneuvers to surround the crowd and tear down their tents, police began spraying people through the parking lot fence. Protesters held their ground by lifting up tarps and covering their faces.
“They were macing through the entirety of the night,” says BLM spokeswoman Lena Gardner. “It was happening very frequently and very freely. Several officers were being intentionally aggressive, trying to provoke people into being more violent.”
Despite rumors that the police were also shooting off rubber bullets, it appears protesters were referring to marking rounds, which were used to identify people suspected of throwing bricks. Minneapolis police do not have any rubber bullets, spokesman John Elder said.
Chemical irritant was used again after officers trying to remove tarps had rocks and bottles thrown at them— Minneapolis Police (@MinneapolisPD) November 19, 2015
At the end of the night, most of the crowd had dispersed, but about 20 or two protesters remained on site. The rally continues today.
UPDATE: This video could cast some doubt on the police claim that cops were, themselves, hit with pepperspray by "people who are not officers." Look past the edited video, which is playing for laughs, and you'll see that one cop's indiscriminate use of the spraygun manages to catch another, standing directly in front of him, right in the face.
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