MINNEAPOLIS – Police tore down an encampment early Thursday outside a Minneapolis precinct where demonstrators had gathered for more than two weeks to protest the fatal shooting of a black man by police.
Officers, including some wearing helmets with visors, told about 50 chanting demonstrators camped outside the Fourth Precinct to disperse about 4 a.m., and they began removing tents about 15 minutes later. City dump trucks carried away tents and supplies. Demonstrators headed by the local Black Lives Matter group had gathered at the site since the Nov. 16 death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark following a confrontation with police a day earlier.
Eight people were arrested during the eviction, Police Chief Janee Harteau said at a news conference. Seven of them were arrested for obstructing the legal process and one person was arrested for trespassing, she said. All eight were being processed at the Hennepin County Jail.
"I do want to make notice to future protests that we will continue to support and facilitate your First Amendment rights and freedom of speech. But, we will also support and enforce the ordinances of the City of Minneapolis and the laws of the state of Minnesota," Harteau said.
After tents were removed, campfires were extinguished and demonstrators were evicted, police and public works crews sent in a convoy of heavy equipment to set concrete barriers in front of the precinct station, along with a steel fence on top.
Several precinct neighbors upset about noise, vandalism and blocked streets connected to the protest voiced their concerns at a City Council safety committee meeting Wednesday. Patricia Anderson said her daughter's car window has been smashed, bricks have been taken from a wall on her property and she's having trouble sleeping. She said she wants the protesters to leave.
Police say they were responding to an assault call on Nov. 15 in which Clark was a suspect and arrived to find Clark interfering with paramedics who were trying to treat the victim. Police say a scuffle followed and Clark was shot. Some community members have alleged Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, but police dispute this. State and federal investigations are underway.