Street riots have continued in Minnesota’s biggest city, Minneapolis, for the third day in a row following Monday’s death of a 46-year old black resident who died in police custody after being tackled by four police officers and pinned to the ground by his neck.
A third night of riots over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police came after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the National Guard to take the situation under control as the protests descended into widespread looting and violent clashes with police throughout the area.
David T. Jensen, a resident of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Twin Cities metropolitan area, believes that the unrest might continue until those who are responsible for George Floyd’s death are placed in custody.
Sputnik: There has been some disturbing news coming out of the Twin Cities metropolitan area over the past few days about buildings being set on fire and several department stores being looted. What is going on in Minneapolis at the moment?
David T. Jensen: At the moment there seems to be a lull in what has been going on all afternoon of a roving action of looting and rioting – targeting mostly Target stores, which is a retail chain that’s local and national, and they attacked a few Walmarts. They’ve been targeting pawn shops and liquor stores. It’s really just a mass unleash of rage and hysteria.
Sputnik: Were there any signs of unrest before the incident with George Floyd, who died after his run-in with the Minneapolis police, or was this particular case the only catalyst for the riots?
David T. Jensen: No, not a thing. If you went back to Sunday, there is absolutely zero on the radar. It’s not about just George Floyd, and to be honest, I think, when they fired the four police officers that were involved in that incident the day after, they thought that would settle it, but how could that settle it? If four people murdered a man on video and they just lost their jobs – people would be screaming for justice. We just heard from the Attorney General Keith Ellison, and he’s talking about “wait for the investigation”. But let’s be honest: a man gets murdered on video, you arrest those people and you put them in a prison cell and while you do your investigation, you press charges. The only reason that that’s not happening is because these are police officers. And the American people think that that’s unjust. And they have this illusion that there is one set of rules for everybody when really, those of us who understand history know that there’s been two sets of rules forever.
Sputnik: For some people in the US, the unrest in Minnesota is probably a reminder of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which broke out after Rodney King – an African American motorist, was assaulted by LAPD officers. Do you think that there are parallels between the two, and, if so, why didn’t American law enforcement learn the lessons of that violent period?
David T. Jensen: Well, we’re not learning a thing. If you’ve got an angry mob and they’re right on the verge of rage and you decide to throw tear gas into them and shoot them with rubber bullets – it’s kind of like a bull fight when you stick a bull with the sword – you get him mad. It’s throwing gas on the fire. You’d think that there are smarter heads in Minnesota, you’d think that there were smarter, cooler heads, and that they’d de-escalate, but they clearly haven’t learned a thing.
Sputnik: Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo said on Thursday that among the rioters were not only locals, but also people from outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Does it seem that the riots have gotten much support from outside of your community?
David T. Jensen: I don’t believe it whatsoever. I think that there was an angry mob protesting at the police precinct, and the police barricaded it up and when the rocks started hitting the cars, they started tossing tear gas and the rubber bullets and compression bombs with the little rubber marbles in it. And within that group there were people that were pumped up with aggression and frustration and anger and injustice, and “nothing ever changes” – I mean, I can remember the last time I felt this kind of rage is when Philando Castile was killed – pulling out his license in his car after telling the police officer that he had a handgun in his car. The man reached for his wallet and they shot him six times. And that guy got acquitted. And then a year later Mohamed Noor shot a white woman walking up to the car, the woman who actually called the police because she thought someone was being raped in her back alley.
And he shot her without even a warrant, and that narrative that he claimed – that the only reason that he got prosecuted is “because he was black and she was white”. Now no charges are being filed against four white police officers for putting their knee on a man’s throat for six plus minutes, in front of multiple witnesses, video recording it live, screaming at him to stop, and he doesn’t do a thing. Nor do the three police officers standing next to him, who have a trained legal obligation to intervene. That man has been placed in custody, he’s in handcuffs, it’s their obligation to protect his life at that particular point. Instead, they put their knee on his throat for six minutes. And it boggles the mind that it happened. But what boggles the mind even further is that our state authorities, including a number of African Americans and high level officials are saying that we “need to wait until the investigation is completed” to determine whether or not charges should be filed. These “police officers” are not police officers, they are murderers and they should be placed in custody. And everybody and their sister knows that this violence and this outrage isn’t going to end until that happens, and yet, here we are: day three.