Minneapolis mayor says outsiders are hijacking protests and ‘attacking civil society’

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  • Picture of police firing tear gas
  • A protester holds up an American flag
  • Picture of man standing in front of large fire
  • A man kneels on the street in front of police officers

MINNEAPOLIS — State and local officials on Saturday said violence in Minneapolis was being fueled by outsiders who, according to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, are “attacking civil society (and) instilling fear and disrupting our great cities” rather than demanding justice for the death of George Floyd.

“The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a news conference Saturday with the governor and the mayor of neighboring St. Paul. “They are coming in largely from outside of the city, from outside of the region to prey on everything that we have built over the last several decades.”

The comments by officials came after a breathtaking night of protests in cities across the country, sparked in part by the death of Floyd, who was unarmed and handcuffed, while in Minneapolis police custody. The former officer seen in a video kneeling on the 46-year-old black man’s Floyd’s neck was arrest and charged in his death on Friday.

Walz said Saturday he would “fully mobilize the National Guard” after protests Friday night –the first full mobilization of Minnesota’s National Guard since World War II, the unit and Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen said.

“Nothing we do to provide justice” for Floyd “matter(s) to any of these people who are out here firing upon the National Guard, burning” businesses and “disrupting civil life,” Walz said.

Walz and the mayors said vandals are largely nonresidents of the cities with no interest in Floyd’s death. The state’s “communities of color … were out fighting hand in hand,” he said, to try to save businesses, some that took generations to build, that were under attack.

The governor said he understands that “Minnesotans’ … inability to deal with inequality” and racism was the catalyst for the protests — but he said rough estimates indicate only 20% of protesters there are Minnesotans.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said there were “those among us who would seek to use” George Floyd’s death as an excuse to “agitate for the destruction of those same communities that have been most traumatized by George Floyd’s death.”

According to Carter, everyone arrested in St. Paul on Friday night was from out of state, adding, “What we are seeing right now is a group of people who are not from here.”

Assertions about outside agitators come partly from data about who has been arrested, as well as information from fliers and online postings, according to state public safety commissioner John Harrington, who said authorities had “seen things like white supremacists organizers” who had posted online about going to Minnesota.

Officials did not provide further details about who exactly was fueling the unrest and where they were from. Harrington said he hoped to release more information later Saturday.

Protests continue on Saturday

Meantime, US Attorney General William Barr on Saturday said the “voices of peaceful protest are being hijacked by violent radical elements” pursuing “their own separate and violent agenda.”

Without citing evidence, the attorney general said that in many places “it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far-left extremist groups using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom traveled from outside the state to promote the violence.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman later said the information underpinning Barr’s assertion came from state and local law enforcement.

Protests were underway by late Saturday afternoon in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Washington, where two Secret Service vehicles were vandalized with graffiti outside the White House.

A demonstration in Los Angeles led to clashes between police and protesters. Police vehicles were vandalized in Los Angeles where some protesters kicked in the windows or sprayed the cars with graffiti. Police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, who chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “George Floyd.”

Aerial footage from CNN affiliate WLS showed protesters in Chicago vandalizing police vehicles. Some threw water bottles at police officers in riot gear, while others were seen lifting police barricades and throwing them at police cars.

Meantime, Philadelphia police said protests at City Hall and the Art Museum began peacefully before a group of others began “committing criminal acts, including vandalism.”

In Atlanta, police braced for more potential protests and arrests Saturday night. The Atlanta Police Department said it would be assisted by about 20 other agencies to monitor activity and protect businesses.

Live updates: Protests spread nationwide

Key developments

• City curfews: A curfew will be in effect in Atlanta from 9 p.m. ET through sunrise Sunday. Philadelphia will institute a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.Denver instituted a citywide curfew beginning Saturday at 8 p.m. MT to 5 a.m.that will remain in effect through Monday. Milwaukee imposed a curfew Saturday night beginning at 9 p.m. CT and Cincinnati announced a curfew from 10 p.m. ET to 6 a.m. this weekend.

• National Guard: At least six states and the District of Columbia have either activated or requested assistance from the National Guard, including Minnesota, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Denver and Kentucky.

• 21-year-old shot: A young man was killed Friday night in downtown Detroit where protests were taking place. Police had previously said the victim was 19 and that they could not confirm whether the victim was part of the protests.

• Clashes and arrests: More than 500 people were arrested in Friday night’s protests in Los Angeles, police said. New York City police have made more than 200 arrests connected to protests, and more than a dozen officers have been serious hurt, according to a senior NYPD source. In Houston, nearly 200 people were arrested and most will be charged with obstructing a roadway, police said.

• Pleas for peace: In Dallas, Mayor Eric Johnson implored people destroying property to stop. In Portland, Oregon, police dispersed protesters with tear gas, saying there was extensive property damage. “Enough,” Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted.

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