Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Steps further

The county released the autopsy report.   Points of interest: no physical injuries to neck; COVID-19 test positive, but not necessarily from an active case because he had also tested positive in early April (when the number of positive tests per day in Minnesota was approaching but not quite at 100); numerous bruises, none on neck; traces of multiple drugs found, and some of the results seem to indicate use on the day of his death, if I am reading right.

More locally, police said there were reports of threatening letters being left in some people’s yards, in reaction to the politics expressed on their yard signs.

Haven’t heard of anything else around here, besides Chauvin being charged with second-degree murder, and the other officers being given lesser charges. Charges for all of the officers was one of the loudest demands of the protestors. Tomorrow is the funeral, or at least the first funeral, closed to the public, which is likely to be a focus of further protests.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The beginning of the end?

Last night the biggest happenings as far as I know were a group of protestors who lingered at the Capitol after curfew to be arrested, and a beat-up old van with red tape crosses on the windows that a reporter had previously pointed out as a makeshift ambulance turned out to be a supply vehicle for organized rioters. They seem to be using them in other cities, too.

Police allowed a peaceful protest at the site of Floyd’s death to continue well past curfew.

People have been donating enormous quantities of food to the area worst hit by the rioting.

The gas tanker driver was released with no charges; investigation ongoing. The story is that he was the only driver at his company willing to deliver to a black-owned gas station in Minneapolis during the unrest, and that the owner stood up in support for him after the arrest.

Today, we had afternoon thunderstorms, and the news is more focused on the charges that are beginning to be filed on the rioters. And also returning to doling out scoldings about coronavirus risks. The governor is having the state Department of Human Rights do a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, going back ten years.

This post by a Ferguson resident has riot preparation tips, but the one I want to highlight is #9.  The media coverage of the violence in Ferguson died down long before the actual violence did. Most everyone who was doing the rioting is probably still in town. There are reports that a number of vehicles have been fleeing police tonight. Other than that, the crime watch/scanner monitoring Twitter accounts are reporting only a few normal-sounding incidents. Curfews continue.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Not over

Only the gas tanker driver was arrested on the bridge last night; today it is reported that somehow the highway shutdown missed him, and he came right into the bridge area full of protestors at speed, and panicked. The protestors had been peaceful up until then, but they perceived it as an attack, some responding by swarming the truck. He was pulled out of it, and received minor injuries only, thanks to intervention by more peaceful protesters.

A couple of hours later, after curfew began, police surrounded and arrested a group of 100+ protesters, peacefully.  Altogether 276 arrests in Minneapolis.  Evidence found of pre-placed incendiary supplies, and use of stolen cars and stolen or missing license plates. Federal charges for an  Illinois man who helpfully posted evidence of his various crimes on Facebook. No evidence that confirms reports made of guys in KKK robes, however.

Tonight there are two large protests going on—one at the governor’s mansion in St. Paul—some other groups beginning to gather, and a number of isolated instances of lawlessness. I don’t know how the last compares to “normal” crime levels, probably still on the high side, even with the increased police and National Guard presence and level of resident vigilance. Curfew starts later, at 10 pm, and ends earlier, and highways are open for now, but will be closed if needed.

A couple of other takes on the past few days:  by Mitch Berg, acquaintance and former neighbor, and by James Lileks, Star Tribune columnist we’ve spoken to in person a couple of times.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

“The full force of goodness and righteousness”

Words of Governor Walz before last night’s action.

Protestors/rioters tried to cross the river from Minneapolis to St. Paul last night, but the St. Paul police held the bridges. Police and National Guard apparently kept most of the protestors on the move, splitting the large groups into smaller groups, and not allowing them to rejoin. They seemed eager to be taking offensive action finally, and not much concerned about niceties like media credentials—according to reporters, who reported about as much on this as on anything else.

There were a number of reports of cars without license plates, which continued into today, and while there were some reports of out-of-state plates on several police calls, most of the 150+ arrests made seem to have been of Minnesotans.

Shots were fired at various times, and there were reports of visible guns.  There may have been a campaign to flood 911 with fake calls; Minneapolis’s web site was under cyber attack last week.

People were defending their streets and businesses, in at least one case making a group of protesters
turn around and choose a different route, by brandishing baseball bats and clubs.

Two bodies were found in the last couple days, although the story that there have been no deaths so far is persisting.

Tonight there is curfew again, and a 5 pm closure of major highways.  There were protests at the Capitol this afternoon, and now the protesters are marching along the freeway toward Minneapolis. Other protests under way in Minneapolis, with two hours until curfew.


Update:  For some reason, they were unable to close Highway 35W on time.  Many protestors/rioters now on the 35W bridge—the one that replaced the bridge that collapsed into the river with people on it some years ago.  There’s a gas tanker on the bridge which they are attacking; it is reported to be empty, aside from the poor driver.

One thing I noticed last night is that a bridge could be a bit hard to get off of, if your opponents are at both ends of it. Hmm.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Too much to keep up with

But sometimes taking a low-information approach helps to make the big picture in that artist technique where you squint at your artwork to see what is wrong with it.

More or less the entire Minnesota National Guard is being deployed. Major highways into and across Minneapolis and St. Paul were shut down at 7 pm.  Curfew at 8, again being ignored by numerous protestors in Minneapolis, despite being told in four? press conferences today to stay home. Last time I checked, the main body of protestors at the 5th precinct building (I think) was splitting, some on the move, some staying put.

Some reports of shots fired in various places, and there are hints that police and National Guard are being more proactive tonight. An AR-15 was confiscated.

Minneapolis neighborhoods were making neighborhood-watch-type preparations, clearly having little faith in their leaders.

Blocking urban streets with concrete barriers only slows cars down, it doesn’t stop them—there are too many ways to get around them.

Arrest records (such as they are) do not support officials’ assertions that 80 to 100% of rioters last night were from out of state.

In the 6:30 pm press conference, St. Paul Mayor Carter went on for some time about why the protestors wouldn’t be satisfied with justice being done only for the Floyd case...and then in the sentences following he used the words “demonstrate” and “double down”.  I don’t think any of that helped.

That did not go well

Most of the protesters ended up at the 5th precinct police building, which became the center of more destruction for a couple of hours. Police and National Guard mostly disappeared during that time, leaving many people asking where they were. Even a couple of Minneapolis City Council members. Around midnight, hundreds of police and National Guard troops advanced on the 5th precinct location to disperse the crowd, and were met with resistance, including some gunfire, but they appeared to be retaking the area and to finally be starting to make some real arrests. Metro Transit had said at some point that they were not going to help transport arrestees.

I took a break, and came back not much more than an hour later to see Governor Walz doing a press conference and admitting to failure. The TV station's sidebar said there had been "several" arrests.

Power Line's take on the night and the press conference is here. Includes links to press conference videos. Walz did really say something like "Sorry we couldn't protect your small, minority-owned business, but we had to protect the Federal Reserve first." Mayor Frey (paraphrasing):  "This all makes me so sad...I just know we're better than this!" Walz said Frey had been awake for 72 hours straight.

Walz gave his overall priorities as preserving lives, protecting property, and re-establishing order, in that order. He seems to be trying to avoid the appearance of using force that could be characterized as excessive or lethal, under a belief that it would provoke a shift away from rioters primarily damaging property, to widespread person-on-person violence. He claimed that they didn't have the "resources" to make arrests, and were going to increase National Guard numbers to 1700.

Notable from the press conference is that he put some blame on organized rioters, specifically "white supremacists" and drug cartels. What about Antifa? I'm listening to some of this morning's press conference now, and this point about organized rioting is being very strongly emphasized. Walz said he believes only 20% of the rioters are Minnesotans! There were pleas for protestors to obey curfew and to not provide cover for outside agitators, and he was definitely painting it as an Us versus Them situation. That is new, and it's an interesting shift in the psychology of the response to the rioting.

Finally some overnight arrest numbers were given:  about 20 in St. Paul. I didn't catch exactly, but it was said that all, or most, or many, of them were from out of state. St. Paul was much quieter than Minneapolis last night.

Minneapolis had 15 to 20 arrests. Total! The number of buildings damaged must be into the high hundreds by now.

Even the Star Tribune was criticizing Walz on Friday.

Friday, May 29, 2020

About to start

Minneapolis and St. Paul announced 8 pm curfews this afternoon, followed after a while by inner-ring suburbs, and two neighboring counties. Probably many people have yet to hear about them. There are some exemptions apparently, including traveling to and from work

There’s a large protest going on now in Minneapolis, which blocked the 35W freeway for a while, that doesn’t look like it is going to comply with the curfew.

Businesses all over the place have been closing early, many being boarded up.  Many volunteers were helping with clean-ups today.  The governor appeared for a news conference this morning, announced that he had taken over from Minneapolis Mayor Frey in the middle of the night, and was asked what he intended to do about protestors violating his executive order by meeting in groups greater than ten.

National Guard last night were given limited roles, mainly defending the Capitol and firefighters.