Updated: Jun 8, 2020
The night of May 28, 2020 did not offer relief to the twin cities of Minnesota, only more chaos and violence. In Minneapolis, the MPD's 3rd Precinct Headquarters fell to rioters after the Mayor ordered the facility evacuated. Nearby, in St. Paul, it is believed more than 170 business were severely damaged, vandalized, looted, or destroyed over the course of the night. The Minnesota National Guard arrived early in the morning of May 29, and began to deploy to locations throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis. President Trump has warned that if the violence is not halted soon, the state's National Guard will be federalized and rioters put down by force.
Peaceful protests began in downtown Minneapolis late Thursday afternoon. Protestors surrounded the Hennepin County Government Center, demanding elected officials hold the officers responsible for the death of an unarmed man accountable. From there, the group moved down Marquette Avenue, shouting chants and disrupting traffic.
Around 9:00 PM CDT, the situation began to escalate when a half-hour stand-off between protestors and police ensued near the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and 5th Street. Fireworks were fired at police, and CS gas was dispersed to break up the crowd. Ultimately, both sides failed in their attempts to disrupt the other group, and the attacks served to only inflame the already tense situation. After nearly another half-hour standoff with no action, a group of protestors broke off from the main group and attempted to block Interstate 35W.
Across the city, on the south side, Walgreens Pharmacy became the site of a shooting at 9:30 CDT. Police responded, but due to interference during their deployment, they were unable to reach the scene in order to apprehend the individual responsible. Less than an hour after the shooting, Max It Pawn Shop, a federally registered gun dealer, erupted into flames. As it falls under federal jurisdiction, those arsonists who torched the building now face the potential of federal charges. Finally, at 10:00 PM the MPD's 3rd Precinct Headquarters was evacuated by law enforcement and occupied by rioters.
In St. Paul, the afternoon started violently. Looting began around 4:00 PM CDT, with multiple business along University Avenue falling victim to rioters. Police repeatedly clashed with looters, resulting in injuries on both sides. Order was restored along parts of the avenue on Friday morning.
Governor Tim Walz signed an executive order on Thursday at 3:00 PM CDT activating the Minnesota National Guard. At 10:30 PM CDT, two Air Force C-130s under the callsigns Viking 6-1 and Viking 6-2 landed in the Minneapolis area. Soon after, 500 guardsmen entered the Twin Cities area in an attempt to restore order. It appears as though all lost ground has been regained, with a joint National Guard and State Police team finally clearing the 3rd Precinct Headquarters of any unwelcome guests.
The violent and lawlessness in the Twin Cities has had an impact on other parts of the country. California, New York, Kentucky, and Ohio have all saw demonstrations turn violent last night. Tonight, several new protests are planned throughout the United States. We will continue to monitor the movements of protestors and rioters as the situation develops.
Legally, questions have begun to emerge regarding the classification of the riots in Minnesota. Insurrection under federal law means, "a violent uprising by a group or movement acting for the specific purpose of overthrowing the constituted government and seizing its powers. An insurrection occurs where a movement acts to overthrow the constituted government and to take possession of its inherent powers.”
The rioters in Minneapolis, although lacking a clear chain of command or representatives, has clearly assaulted officers of the law, burned a government building, destroyed civilian property, and severely limited the ability of the government to perform its duties. Thus, some legal experts are arguing that the riots were indeed an insurrection against the government. As this was the first time in nearly a century that a police facility was taken by force, questions will undoubtedly remain as to what the perpetrators of the act should be charged with.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.