Protests in Minneapolis over the shooting of an armed 32-year-old man by law enforcement descended into violence and looting again Friday night and early into Saturday morning.
People had gathered at rallies and vigils around the city throughout the day, but by nightfall, the protests turned into chaos, with rioters blocking traffic in the city’s Uptown area and setting dumpsters on fire as they clashed with police, reported the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
It was the second night of violence and chaos after the U.S. Marshals Service task force fatally shot 32-year-old Winston Boogie Smith Jr., a black man, on Thursday when trying to execute an arrest warrant, authorities said.
Investigators said Smith fired a gun from inside his vehicle toward law enforcement before law enforcement shot him. He had been wanted on a warrant and already had an extensive criminal record – with a previous felony conviction of aggravated robbery.
Still, his shooting came in a city already inflamed by recent police-involved shootings: George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020 and 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed by police earlier this year.
The fatal shooting, coupled with the dismantling of George Floyd Square during the week, sparked earlier bouts of civil unrest, vandalism and looting of businesses overnight Thursday, leading to multiple arrests then. On Friday, no arrests were reported by the Star-Tribune by 11 pm local time – though videos and photos of dramatic confrontations with police can be seen.
Police stand guard after protesters set fire to dumpsters after a vigil was held for Winston Boogie Smith Jr.
Protesters were arrested by police after the vigil was held following Smith’s death on Thursday
Police stand guard after protesters set fire to dumpsters on the street at the vigil for Smith in the early hours of Saturday
Firefighters were also called to the scene after some protesters began setting bins on fire and damaging property in the area
The US Marshals task force had moved in on Smith who was wanted for being a felon in possession of a firearm after he posted a picture of what appeared to be himself sitting in a car with a gun and a box of bullets – a probation violation.
Smith, who was in a parked SUV, ‘produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject,’ Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department said. Officers attempted to revive the suspect but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
At a vigil for Smith overnight Thursday, buildings were vandalized and looted, and nine people were arrested on charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property.
Pictures from the scene show fires in the streets and lines of armed officers standing guard in the city.
On Friday, protests kicked off into riot-like conditions again.
The spot where Smith was fatally shot has been marked with graffiti reading ‘no trail for them’ and ‘Mpls still hates cops.’
Winston Boogie Smith, pictured in a mugshot from December 2019, when he was arrested on warrant charging him with possession of firearms or ammunition as a felon, was shot dead by police Thursday
Tensions were already high in the city after crews began to remove the concreate barricades that have sealed off the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago – the infamous location of Floyd’s death and a so-called ‘autonomous zone’ over the past year.
Friends and family on Friday named the deceased suspect as 32-year-old Smith, a father-of-two from Minneapolis. His identity has not been officially confirmed by the authorities.
Marshals had approached him outside a parking garage at around 2pm on Thursday in the Uptown neighborhood, just three miles away from George Floyd Square.
According to court records, Smith had racked up at least 20 arrests since 2007 on charges ranging from minor traffic violations to drug and marijuana possession.
In 2017, he was convicted of felony aggravated robbery, was handed a three-year stayed sentence and was put on probation.
Under the conditions of his probation, Smith was required to stay in regular contact with his probation officer, submit to random drug testing, find a job and possess no firearms.
After posting an image of a gun and bullets on Instagram, a probation violation hearing was called on May 5. WCCO reported that when Smith failed to show up at the hearing, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Meanwhile, the incident comes as gun violence has been increasing in the city, and the victims of the violence are even young children.
Trinity Ottoson-Smith, 9, died after being struck by a bullet when caught in the crossfire of a shoot out on May 15.
The warrant for Smith’s arrest was issued less than two weeks after he posted this photo on his public Instagram page
Winston Boogie Smith, 32, was shot and killed by members of a US Marshals task force in Minneapolis on Thursday. Smith, who was wanted for a probation violation, allegedly pulled a gun on officers
She was the second child to be shot in Minneapolis in just three weeks. LaDavionne Garrett Jr, 10, was shot while sitting in his parents car. He remains in hospital.
Just two days after Trinity died, six-year-old Aniya Allen was killed after being shot while sat in the car with her mother on May 17.
There have been 36 homicides in the city so far this year, which is more than double the number at this point last year and more than four times that seen in 2019.
Car-jackings are up 222 per cent and shootings have risen 153 per cent. 80 per cent of the victims are black.
Gun theft from vehicles is up more than 100 per cent and the police department has seized 100 fewer guns this year than they had at the same point in 2020.
Late Friday into early Saturday morning, police armed with batons were guarding the streets and protecting stores from looting as protests descended into violence
The spot where Smith was fatally shot has been marked with graffiti reading ‘no trail for them’ and ‘Mpls still hates cops.’
Police stood guard of bins which had been set on fire by protestors amid damage in the city that had been kicked off after vigils around town for Smith
On Thursday, nine people were arrested on charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property; on Friday, no arrests had been reported by local media by 11 pm local time
Minneapolis Police Department has lost more than 200 police officers, who have either permanently left the department or been signed off of service due to disability.
Local activist Marcus X, said, ‘There’s shootings every single day and the summer hasn’t even started. All the police have PTSD, they’ve left, you don’t see police patrolling here. I know it and the gangs know it.
‘I could shoot someone right now and walk five blocks home before the police would even come.’
‘The police have left and it’s unleashed the gangs.’
According to authorities, members of the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force were trying to arrest Smith on Thursday on a warrant for allegedly being a felon in possession of a gun.
The Marshals Service said in a statement that the father of three did not comply with law enforcement and ‘produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject.’
State investigators have said that there was evidence within the vehicle that Smith was in that he had fired his gun, with empty cartridges found inside the car.
He died at the scene and his passenger, a 27-year-old woman, was treated for injuries from glass debris.
Tommy McBrayer (R) speaks during a vigil for Winston Boogie Smith on June 4, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Candles and flowers are arranged at a vigil for Winston Boogie Smith Jr. early on Saturday
Flowers were arranged and graffiti with Smith’s name was put up at a vigil held in his memory on Friday and Saturday
According to court records, Smith had a felony conviction from a 2017 assault and robbery of his ex-partner. He pleaded guilty one count of aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery for attacking his ex-girlfriend while another woman took her purse.
He was sentenced to two years in prison, but the prison sentence was stayed for three years, provided he didn’t break the law.
He was charged in December 2019 with two counts of illegally possessing a firearm, and was also charged with fleeing police in Hennepin County, Minneapolis last year.
Family and friends of Smith, told the Associate Press that despite his mistakes, he did not deserve to be killed.
His partner, Shelly Hopkins, said he ‘had the best heart out of anybody [she had] ever met in [her] life.’
‘I wasn’t there,’ she said. ‘I don’t know exactly what happened. But I know him. And he didn’t deserve that.’
‘The two biggest things he cared about in this world was making people happy and being there for his kids.’
A protester is arrested by police after a vigil was held for Winston Boogie Smith Jr. early in Minneapolis on Saturday
A police car pulls up to the scene of the vigil where authorities and protestors clashed over Smith’s death
Protestors at the vigil were said to be demanding justice for the 32-year-old father of three who died on Thursday
It is the second night of protests in response to Smith’s death in Minneapolis’ Uptown area earlier this week
She also alleged that police had ‘tried to make a case against him that didn’t exist’ and that he had been harassed by police for some time.
She also said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his interactions with the police.
Smith’s brother, Kidale Smith added: ‘This man had a family, and he’s just like anybody else. [People] always try to pin something on a man and try to identify him as a criminal, especially if he’s black.’
He also questioned the police account of what happened.
‘You’ve got seven unmarked cars and you shoot a man in his car,’ he said. ‘You don’t even give him a chance to get out. You’re the U.S. Marshals. You’re supposed to be highly trained men, and you can’t handle a simple situation?’
Family and friends have now called for the release of all footage from security and surveillance cameras in the area.
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said the US Marshals Service does not allow officers on the North Star Fugitive Task Force to use body cameras, and that there is no footage of the shooting.
But, the Department of Justice allows state, local and tribal task officers to use body cameras.
Authorities are said to be investigating, but no surveillance video has been identified yet.
It was not clear how many law enforcement officers fired their weapons during the incident on Thursday.
A spokeswoman with the US Marshals said the US Marshals leads the task force that attempted the arrest, which is comprised of several agencies.
Other agencies with personnel on the scene at the time of the shooting include sheriff’s offices from Hennepin, Anoka and Ramsey counties, the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the Department of Homeland Security. Minneapolis police played no role in the incident.
Officers who were involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.
The gunfire erupted on the fifth floor of a parking ramp at West Lake Street and South Fremont Avenue.
A bartender from a nearby business told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that several of his patrons hear eight to 12 shots, and then saw officers grab the female passenger from the suspect’s vehicle.
A neighbor who lives across from the parking ramp told the paper she heard more than a dozen shots, followed by a pause, and then even more shots.
Smith was a local hip hop artist who performed under the stage name ‘Wince Me Boi’ and also appeared in comedy videos.
In January 2020, he released a single dedicated to his children titled Goodbye.
Friends and relatives took to Facebook and Twitter to pay tribute to Smith as news of his killing spread.
First night of protests descended into violence and nine people were arrested as authorities reveal the 32-year-old shot by police fired at them from inside his car
Minneapolis police said news of the shooting sparked ‘numerous’ instances of vandalism and looting overnight.
The shooting came after crews began dismantling concrete barriers around the so-called ‘autonomous zone’ of George Floyd Square, which were set up as a memorial after he was murdered in May 2020.
Protests had already broken out among activists angered by the removal of the shrine when news of the shooting in Uptown reached them.
People soon gathered in Uptown, crowding around the crime scene and chanting anti-police slogans, before they barricaded off Lake Street and Girard Avenue where a dumpster was torched.
The shooting took place three miles away from George Floyd Square in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis
Protesters set a dumpster on fire in response to Smith’s killing, coupled with the dismantling of George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on Thursday
The trash receptacle eventually melted into a ‘puddle of fire,’ a TV reporter at the scene tweeted. Several dozen protesters were observed throwing more items into the dumpster to feed the blaze.
It took police more than 40 minutes to respond and by the time they arrived cars and motorcycles had shown up to help protesters block off the streets, according to independent journalist Rebecca Brannon.
Brannon filmed the moment police began ‘aggressively’ moving in on protesters, shooting tear gas into the intersection to clear them out. Firefighters were later filmed extinguishing the fire and cleaning up the intersection.
Infighting and looting broke out across the city as the streets remained filled with protesters until the early hours of the morning. A T-Mobile store and a CVS pharmacy were among the shops raided by looters and officers were later deployed outside businesses to prevent further damage to property.
Vandals spray-painted buildings near the scene of the shooting with the words, ‘Kill cops’ and ‘No trial for them’, while others hurled abuse at officers calling them, ‘F***ing Nazis’ and ‘White supremacists.’
The riot came after crews began dismantling George Floyd Square in the early hours of Thursday morning, surprising many residents waking up.
Crews removed concrete barriers as well as artwork, flowers and other memorial items from the intersection where Floyd was murdered last year.
A fist sculpture, which stands several feet tall and created a traffic roundabout, will remain in the middle of the intersection.
The removal of barriers means traffic can once again begin to flow through the intersection, although for now the fist statue will serve as a makeshift roundabout.
Within four hours, work in the area was complete, though protesters spent time shouting ‘no justice, no peace’ during some of the dismantling.
Additionally, two news photographers trying to document what was taking place were met with resistance, with one being threatened physically.
Police allegedly failed to respond for more than 40 minutes as the fire raged
Construction crews were observed clearing George Floyd Square early on Thursday morning
After the square was cleared, many people remained in the area to observe what had just taken place, although the dismantling passed-off peacefully, with community group members and protesters later seen eating coffee and donuts.
The garden that was in front of the sculpture will be moved to another location nearby, a community spokesperson said.
A joint statement was issued by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins and City Council Member Alondra Cano.
‘The City’s three guiding principles for the reconnection of 38th and Chicago have been community safety, racial healing and economic stability and development for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other communities of color,’ the statement reads.
‘The Agape Movement brought together community leadership to begin facilitating the phased reconnection this morning, with the City playing a supportive role. We are grateful for the partnership.
‘We are collectively committed to establishing a permanent memorial at the intersection, preserving the artwork, and making the area an enduring space for racial healing.’
When the fist was installed, it created a roundabout at the intersection in the square
The statement concludes: ‘Alongside City leadership, we have met on a regular basis with community members to discuss both the short-term path toward reconnecting this area and the long-term plan for the neighborhood with sustained investments to help restore and heal the community.’
In the past, Mayor Jacob Frey has called for a ‘phased reopening’ of the square.
The intersection at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue has been closed to traffic and became a primary gathering place for those mourning Floyd’s death.
The community group Agape, which contracted with the city to keep watch over the area, worked to coordinate the effort, according to city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.
Agape told KTSP that the the barricades were being removed for security purposes, as well as to promote community healing.
‘There’s a chance and a time for this community to get back to a new normal. That’s what we’re trying to establish,’ Agape Senior Advisor Steve Floyd told FOX 9.