Minneapolis & Outside Agitators

Something I honestly did not know before this past week is how deeply confusing living through a crisis like this is. Speculation gets turned into rumor gets turned into “I know this for a fact!” more quickly than I would have thought possible.

But there are hundreds of eyewitness reports from around Minneapolis that arsons were being committed by small groups of white men, apparently outsiders, moving rapidly around the city mostly in vehicles without license plates; watching that get endlessly dismissed on Twitter as “what the authorities always say” from people outside the state has been enraging.

First, I just want to note: all of this is happening because a group of Minneapolis police officers murdered a non-resisting Black man who’d been accused of the pettiest of all possible minor offenses. They murdered him in cold blood, in front of witnesses, with a camera running, because they felt completely immune from consequences. This is happening because in murder after murder like this, the cops are immune from consequences. There have been endless peaceful demonstrations, from marches to letters to the editor to sports teams “taking a knee” and police officers still assume that they can murder Black men with no consequences, and when they discover they might possibly be faced with consequences, they are enraged and take out their anger on the entire community.

That’s how things started here.

(Cutting here because this is going to run long.)

I’m going to start by talking about what the early protests/looting looked like, because that, in fact, was local, and looked very different.

If I recall correctly, there was a Tuesday night protest where protesters were really angry and the police were really confrontational and injured a bunch of protesters by firing rubber bullets and tear gas indiscriminately. Then the police escalated from there on Wednesday, and that’s when the Target got looted and the Autozone burned down and also the police forced protesters east along Lake Street and there was some additional looting along East Lake; there was also a bunch of looting in Uptown that night. And then on Thursday night, the police precinct was taken over and burned and a lot more stuff on that corner burned.

So: I think the Target looting was overwhelmingly local. I don’t think it was motivated by any particular animosity towards Target, though there might have been some. I think probably it started because people urgently needed stuff, and Target has a lot of stuff you might be needing. (They had closed up early Wednesday afternoon because they wanted their employees to be able to get home safe before the police violence escalated again, which was an excellent decision — seriously, you saw those videos, can you imagine getting off work and having to figure out how the fuck to find your bus home as cops are launching tear gas? But that meant the store was closed, unavailable to sell things people might be needing.) And once looting gets going, I think a lot of people figure fuck it, they might as well, and that seems likely to be exacerbated if they’re struggling to get through a pandemic.

Probably everyone’s seen the video of that white guy smashing the AutoZone windows and getting aggressive towards the Black guy who tried to stop him. (ETA: here it is on YouTube, if you haven’t seen it.) I don’t know if he was local or not. (St. Paul cop? Certainly possible but not really proven. As far as I’ve seen, no reporter has found the “ex” who allegedly ID’d him, and I’m sure they’ve been trying.) He was clearly different from the rest of the protesters, and fit the profile of the groups that later showed up committing mass arson in a number of ways. So while the protests and mayhem were mostly locally sourced, there may have already been some outsiders showing up to pour gasoline on the flames, and I started that sentence thinking metaphorically but possibly they literally did that.

I also think the looting that progressed down East Lake was local and people who’d been at the protest. This was a mix of targeted and random. US Bank was probably a mix of “fuck these guys” and “I bet there’s money in that ATM,” a pawnshop is going to be a mix of “fuck these guys” and “I see some good stuff in there,” but Town Talk restaurant got absolutely wrecked, a florist had their windows smashed, riots are always going to include damage that makes no particular sense, which is part of why it would be nice if your police force did not set out to provoke a riot. 

Smarter people than me have written about how when the police endlessly escalate with tear gas and rubber bullets and other weapons designed to hurt or even maim, the people who would normally work to keep the peace for you either leave, or stop trying, and you’re left with a bunch of really angry people. The police absolutely wanted a riot. They absolutely wanted looting. Minneapolis Council Rep Steve Fletcher wrote today about how the police will literally delay responses to calls in order to blackmail City Council reps into signing off on budget increases. Their goal was — probably not seeing their own precinct house burn? — but they wanted to punish the politicians and citizens demanding police accountability, both the ones standing outside their precinct (who they could shoot rubber bullets at and tear gas at) and the ones staying home (who voted for Frey, Fletcher, etc.) They also wanted to change the headlines from “Minneapolis police officers murder unarmed man for no reason” to “rioting sweeps through city.”

That same night, there was also looting in Uptown. I think this was local, opportunistic, and related to the protests only in the sense that everyone in the area paying attention to developing events knew that the police were not responding to calls. The Uptown looting was three miles from the protest.

The next night (Thursday), police evacuated and protesters burned down the precinct. It’s possible some outsiders had shown up (I think we actually know for sure there was at least one, that brain genius from Illinois who livestreamed himself handing out fireworks and trying to get other people to throw them) but I can tell you that relatively few Minneapolis residents would need much encouragement to burn down that police station, and most of those who would balk at the idea, it would be on the purely pragmatic grounds that they’ll just rebuild the fucking thing anyway so why waste that money on construction. The hostility between the Minneapolis police and the community they swagger around runs deep.

A number of buildings near the police station burned that night as well (like the restaurant Gandhi Mahal, which was a beloved neighborhood institution, and what was left of Town Talk). Those fires might have been set by protesters because riots are unpredictable. But fire also spreads. And the police were using flash-bangs, which can start fires, and there were protesters using fireworks, which can start fires.

Thursday was also a day with a lot of looting in St. Paul, mostly along University Avenue between Fairview and Lexington. I’m still not clear on how that got started, but I think that was mostly locals. (ETA: my friends who live in Midway think there was definitely some outsider-arson happening in St. Paul as well — again, more on Friday.) (ETA: they also mostly agree that there was definitely some locally-sourced looting.)

(ETA: This Tweet from Pioneer Press reporter Frederick Melo includes some good analysis from a local business owner, Nneka Constantino, who says that the looting was local, the fires were not. My favorite line from her: “Most young black kids in my family don’t even know how to start a bonfire or an old school charcoal grill.”)

It was Friday night that things changed.

Friday night, there were suddenly fires everywhere. 

And this is what I started seeing from people all over Minneapolis: that they were seeing vehicles full of small groups of white men starting these fires. They were masked, organized, working quickly. Their vehicles had no plates, or covered plates, or out-of-state plates. They had tools, and they were smashing their way in, starting fires, and moving to the next location. They were spreading the fires out, using a deliberate strategy to make it impossible for the fire department to have any chance of keeping up. And far from avoiding Black-owned businesses, they were targeting them. Along with Black neighborhoods and diverse multiracial neighborhoods generally.

It has been absolutely surreal this week seeing people on Twitter rolling their eyes and telling us we’re imagining things, and I realized today that it’s a literal vintage horror movie trope. “But Mayor Smith! I saw the monster. It’s real.” “Aw, sure you did, Jimmy. You run along home to your mom, now, tell her you need to go to bed early.” “But Mayor Smith –” “Don’t make me tell you again, Jimmy! I told you there’s nothing in that swamp you need to worry about!”

Fortunately, our local officials believed these reports immediately and organized Saturday meetings to discuss community defense. Across Minneapolis and St. Paul, people organized neighborhood watches, set up their garden hoses, filled buckets, drove out to the suburbs to buy carloads of fire extinguishers to distribute around their block, and basically prepared to be their own fire department. And stood watch, collectively, through Saturday night, watching car after car full of white men driving by at high speeds and in some cases being violently assaulted by law enforcement for being on their own porches as they kept watch.

Sunday in the late afternoon, word went around that people were finding incendiary materials that appeared to have been cached around town, and we were urged to go check our alleys and yards. People found jars and bottles that had been filled with gasoline or kerosene; wood and mattresses and trash that had been soaked with gasoline.

Let me just note that these cars without license plates were everywhere; at least half my friends have seen them. “In 10 minutes saw 4 cars with no plates going north on Hiawatha. All white males,” reported one of my college friends on Twitter. Other friends found cars without plates parked on their block on Saturday. (The cars themselves may be local, at least in some cases: in a thread discussing this, someone noted that her car was stolen and found several days later with the plates removed. It had also been set on fire.)

So yeah — these groups of arsonists absolutely exist. What I don’t think we know with certainty is their ideology. I checked out the articles about that guy from Illinois, and his social media, and his ideology seems to be “WHO HAS TWO THUMBS AND WANTS TO RIOT? THIS GUY!!!” The right wing, of course, thinks it was “antifa.” Here’s my “right-wing or left-wing” analysis, for what it’s worth.

  • Regardless of their espoused ideology, if someone is deliberately targeting Black-owned businesses for destruction, they are a white supremacist. If you consider Black lives expendable, and Black pain to be a tool that you can use to your own ends, that is white supremacy, right there. I don’t care if you consider yourself a leftist, you can fucking go to hell, and I hope you get the shit kicked out of you on your way there.
  • Everyone agrees that the people in these cars are white men. I would expect groups of leftists to include women and people of color.
  • We know there are Boogaloo message boards where people were discussing coming to Minneapolis as early as Tuesday night. (Robert Evans, @iwriteok on Twitter, was monitoring those boards on Tuesday night and Tweeting about it.) (The Boogaloo movement is a group mostly made up of white racists who want to start a second civil war. They are “accelerationists,” which means they wish to make things worse as quickly as possible to speed up this process.)
  • If it were leftists you’d really think they’d have hit some of the more upscale areas, wouldn’t you? Not just attack poor and working-class people? Don’t you think “antifa” might have gone after the Calhoun Yacht Club or maybe even gone and looted Edina, instead of Powderhorn and Northside?

And here’s why I think they are mostly outsiders, even if some of the early reports (“every single arrest last night was a person from out of state”) were seriously exaggerated.

  • The many reports of missing license plates. There were also some covered plates that when uncovered were out-of-state people.
  • Friends in Powderhorn reported a lot of cars having to back out of those weird dead-end streets around the park, as well as a lot of people driving the wrong way on Park Ave and Portland Ave (two very well-known one-way streets running north and south through South Minneapolis).
  • If you look at maps of the damage, even while going all over town they mostly stuck to the parts of Minneapolis that are a grid. The non-grid stuff can be very confusing if you’re not used to it, and they mostly avoided the non-grid areas.
  • Another piece of local knowledge they didn’t have — there are some business districts in the area where the street running through looks like a highway on Google Maps. There were a handful of “looted, property damage” businesses on those corridors that might have been hit by locals but avoided by the arsonists because they assumed they’d have to find a freeway exit to get to them. (I’ll note, related to this, while there’s a lot of local knowledge suburbanites don’t have they do know which roads through the city are actually highways even if it’s not clear from Google Maps.)

So why aren’t the cops catching more of them? I think it’s because they don’t want to. Because they would much rather terrorize the residents of Minneapolis than catch white supremacists. This is  a group that has repeatedly elected Bob fucking Kroll as their union rep and uses mafia-style tactics in selective policing to intimidating City Council reps into not cutting their budget. There is a reason that Minneapolis citizens burned down that police station.  

I need to wrap this up and go to bed, so I’ll add, in researching this I found this MPR article that does some similar analysis but with actual interviews and someone who specifically studies extremist groups.

In summary: the protests are not remotely the result of outside agitators. The Minneapolis police are terrible and there’s years of fury built up at their ability to just abuse people for no reason and with no consequences. The arsons, on the other hand: Minneapolis residents are furiously angry about the murder of George Floyd, but they are not burning down Black neighborhoods in response. That’s being done by outsiders.

39 thoughts on “Minneapolis & Outside Agitators

  1. Wow. Thank you. That’s really cogent and helpful. It has been very, very confusing.

    Our neighborhood has been keeping a watch. They’ve done things like a soft barricade of alleys at night (lawn chairs and such-like, easily moveable but might divert someone in a hurry), and looking for out of place cars. While out for a walk, yesterday, one of my neighbors very pleasantly, almost as if it were a social thing, asked me which house I lived in. I cheerfully told him, and we were cheerful and neighborly together.

    I think the thing that’s so incredibly weird, for me, is that during the day, it’s really really normal, if maybe a little friendlier than usual. But video of anywhere the cops show up, it looks like a war zone. And these are both happening in the same place. It’s the same city.

  2. Yes. Holy hell, you read my mind, turned it coherent, and wrote a post. I was defending a low-income below-market-rate volunteer-run car repair place for low income people on Hiawatha and Lake called The Lift for a little bit Thursday night, excuse me, Friday morning (all good, nothing happened to them). The folks in the streets were mostly young but from all walks of life. When I took a stroll, I met people defending Moon Palace (and the other local non-chains) who when I talked to them said “we love this place” (said one outside MP) as an explanation why. Meanwhile, other groups milled about in the smoke, fire, and rubble. Occasional chants would break out invoking George Floyd’s name, or alternately epithets against the police.

    What a difference a day (a night?) makes. And even more of a difference two days and nights. Friday night, we were blindsided, and by “we” I mean both in general Minneapolis and specifically my friends, mostly in South (I live in Northeast). I can’t speak for anywhere else, but folks were chasing away rioters and arsonists from local businesses on E. Lake and not always successfully. Saturday morning we all met in Powderhorn Park and discussed how to defend ourselves. It may have saved lives Saturday night. At that point we, the black community, and other people roughly in the same boat and with the same outlook knew that there were invaders trying to destroy their neighborhoods. I’ve had to check many well-intentioned friends who have fallen back on halfway obsolete in the Boogaloo Boi 4chan era academic tropes along the lines of “a riot is the voice the unheard” when questioning the narrative of who is doing what – the fundamental truth, as you note, is that sometime between Friday night and Saturday night, EVERYTHING CHANGED.

    In describing the feeling starting Saturday morning, I’m no longer relying on firsthand experience, but rather texts, posts, etc from people I’ve been friends with for years, as well as shared videos such as this one (hope the link works, and I don’t know anyone in this video): http://www.facebook.com/100000170367279/videos/3558693550812955/ things got horrible. Nicollet Ave S suddenly turned into a hotspot. Lake St continued to be one. The Midtown Market was under attack by invaders, arsonists… a friend of mine activated a fire hydrant near Chicago-Lake Liquors to put out fires mostly started by young white men (as I recall them telling me).

    In Northeast Mpls, about 40 people met at 5pm to discuss protecting our neighborhood in a manner similar to the much larger gathering in Powderhorn, little groups in parts of the area who could fly to a scene of trouble if needed. The days of the fire extinguisher and the baseball bat. After the meeting my wife and I walked up Central from Lowry to 29th and back to our car, warning immigrant-owned businesses that there were people in town who might target them, as well as the non-immigrants. (I still cringe at the couple of times my broken Spanish was all we had to work with.) Turns out we were about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, but whatever, for the next three nights we kept in touch about suspicious vehicles via SIgnal app and other means. Meanwhile, friends in South kept finding fire accelerants and such as you wrote about in your post.

    Nobody needs me to repeat anything about the horrible MPD culture and systemic Minneapolis racism. But I NEED people to know that something changed in a huge way between Thursday night and Saturday morning in the city of Minneapolis. I was on the ground there at Hiawatha and Lake for awhile. And close friends live there, even if I don’t, and they’d be happy to speak I’m sure. Allright, that’s the end of this long rambling exhausted post.

    And yours, Naomi? Bullseye.

      • Hey natocoles,

        My girlfriend and I have formed a small network of neighbors over a few block radius. Would you be interested in getting in touch? I think it would make sense to possibly connect our groups, or at least have a line of communication open. We’ve gone to stay with a friend in SLP in the short term, but seeing as this seems to be a long haul type of situation, I want to find a better solution, so we can feel safe staying in our own home. Please let me know!

  3. Another thought I had was that there’s no meaningful difference between white, right-wing groups coming from outside Minnesota or inside Minnesota. We all know that Minnesota has plenty of mouth-breathing Q-anon message board goons that hate the actual city of Minneapolis living out in the various suburbs and exurbs. Someone driving in from Isanti County or wherever is the same as someone coming from a red state.

    But boy is it hard to separate out the signal from the noise using social media… Still, I had more than enough reports from people I personally know to believe the same things you are describing here.

    • Absolutely agree that there’s no meaningful difference between someone driving in from Isanti County and someone driving in from Iowa to burn Minneapolis.

      I’ve heard a lot of speculation that the Wednesday-night Uptown looting was suburbanites, mostly because apparently they were all driving really nice cars. (There ARE city people with nice cars, but remarkably few, even in the rich neighborhoods. Rich Minneapolis people are no less into conspicuous consumption than Edina residents, they just tend to conspicuously consume stuff that impresses their neighbors more effectively than a late-model SUV.)

    • I can tell you what I witnessed in the Midway. Our block (Bill, you know where we live) was hopping all afternoon and night on Thursday with people driving in to “shop” the busted stores and just to check out what was going on. These people seemed to be mostly local or local-ish, and my best guess is that most of them had come spontaneously because the word had gotten out that there was some chaos going on and everything was free. It was black people, white people, and everybody else too, including a lot of mixed groups. In the mix, I witnessed little knots of white dudes hopping around enjoying themselves, some carrying sticks. The word had definitely gone out through white social media networks, including white-supremacist networks, that there was fun to be had, but it’s possible that the white mischief was mostly disorganized, at least early in the evening. I was inside the house by curfew, so I don’t know what things looked like when the burning started to spread. That was definitely the most volatile night in St. Paul; homes were spared, but I really think it’s possible that if someone had started smashing houses, the smash-up crowd would have gone, “Cool, we’re doing houses now.”

      On Friday, we had people driving all around the neighborhood, obviously looking around to see if there was anything still going on. Many of them seemed like the mixed crowd from Thursday evening; many were white guys in trucks/SUVs who looked like they thought they were on some kind of patrol. There were more than the usual number of Texas license plates. At that point everybody had realized that the coming night was going to be scary, and I think the local-ish white riffraff that had been out on Thursday (like those kids from Wisconsin that the AIM patrol pulled out of the liquor store) mostly went home to their mommies. However, it seemed to me, and others’ reports seem to confirm, that a significant presence of white militia types showed up from both in-state and out of state because they thought they were going to be the heroes, presumably by doing battle with Antifa and/or black rioters, and be welcomed as saviors by the innocents of the neighborhood (ha!).

      I did not personally see any explicit white-supremacist or right-wing insignia on the “patrolling” vehicles, although I did see a truck over the weekend that had some bumper sticker or marking that had been duct-taped over. I personally only saw a handful of cars without license plates, but I did see one speed down our alley. St. Paul police a couple blocks away told my husband that the driver of that car had already been stopped while attempting to break into a garage, but they had let him go for some reason. The windows were tinted and I didn’t see the driver, so I don’t know if it was a white guy.

      This is speculation, but I think a lot of the white supremacists and associated clowns who might have planned to do more smashing and burning on Friday and onward probably never set foot out of their trucks, basically because they knew that protestors, neighbors, and state officials were all aware of their presence, and they didn’t feel confident that they could operate with impunity anymore. They had probably counted on being able to blend in with spontaneous riots, but spontaneous riots weren’t really what was going on.

  4. I’ve shared this post with several folks to help them understand what happened over there. Thanks for writing it. Other cities are leaning in to the “outside agitators” line, but I think what happened in Minneapolis was truly unique. That makes sense to me, as the epicenter of this crisis, it would be the natural place for agitators of all stripes.

    The proof for me, is those four teens from Wisconsin who got swept up by the patrol of AIM members. Bold and stupid as they may be, those kids would not be the first to act. They’d get their cue from others. So if *they* decided that it was okay to drop into town for a bit of light looting, then that suggests that a ton of more motivated and organized people had that idea even earlier.

  5. I watched some of the rioting in Saint Paul. Looting may have been local, in terms of at least people in the city or related to the angry response. Some of the arson may have even be local. But, there are videos (taken by neighbors and submitted to authorities) of what looks like young adult white people giggling about it and appearing to either participating in or encouraging some of it. As you say, it is complicated and not at all simple to explain, talk about.

    • I did see that. Also, this was my usual Target when I lived in Longfellow, and I noticed years ago that they had more security on their electronics department (and it wasn’t subtle, they had a whole separate set of sensors you had to walk through), which I found obnoxious. But — I’ll also note that the grocery stores in that cluster (there used to be a Rainbow Foods, which closed down a few years ago, and the Cub is still there) would consistently massively understaff because they knew a lot of the locals had no cars, and thus no real choice but to stand in extremely long lines, whereas that Target store was consistently well-staffed, well-stocked, and clean. In terms of stores that were aggressive about their disrespect of the area residents, at least in the past, Target was better than many of its neighbors.

      Also, fundamentally, you really do not need animosity to loot a Target! It’s full of stuff you need, and stuff you want, and it’s a big chain where you won’t feel like you’re destroying some individual person’s livelihood.

  6. Naomi,
    As always, you are pretty amazing with your analysis. Nothing I can disagree with. I would just note, though, that the midway area of St. Paul had more than looting. My neighborhood lost a lot businesses to fire. And others to the destruction and looting. Lots of cars full of young men. The unlicensed cars didn’t show up until Friday, though.

    • Ironically, despite being a St. Paul resident, I have a better handle on what’s going on in Minneapolis. I’ve edited the St. Paul part a bit. The thing about the Thursday St. Paul stuff I’m not sure what to make of:

      1. The first (or at least an early) target was the Midway Target, but then people scattered when the police showed up. That Target is so close to a police station you can spin the police station Pokestop from inside that Target. If you’re trying to avoid a confrontation with the police, why would you head there?

      2. Much like in Minneapolis, there were sections of the city that didn’t get much damage where you might not know it was there without local knowledge.

      3. And vice versa. Who the fuck who’s ever been in Ax-Man would say “ah yes, WE LOOT HERE.”

      4. All that said — I heard no speculation that day that the looters were out-of-towners. There weren’t any of the clues like “young white men with backwards baseball caps pulling up in late-model SUVs to load up stuff.”

      5. My best guess is that there was a mix — if the theory that people were coming to town to make trouble is correct, they probably didn’t all roll in at once. It makes sense that on Thursday, they were sticking with locals and starting fires in their wake, and then Friday they had critical mass to break off and create chaos on their own.

  7. Regarding unlicensed cars showing up- my husband had gone shopping Thursday morning and came home telling me about the unlicensed car driving erratically on the way home. I told him that’s how things are now with Covid- erratic driving, no real traffic rules anymore. He thought this was different. Two hours later, we heard about the events on University Avenue starting and businesses in the Midway closing. Someone said an estimated 50% unlicensed cars that day. I never really saw any unlicensed car, but I might not have been looking.

  8. Thank-you for taking the time to express your views. Actually they concur with much of what I have read on the topics during this terrible situation in our country. I needed to examine the racist scene in the US. The reason I was not so aware of it is too long to write and too unusual to understand, but I am aware now and I am willing to do what I can about it because I believe it is utterly unjust and sad. I have cried these days for several reason.

  9. Thank you for this. It’s exactly how I experienced last week and I really appreciate your careful nuanced account. “It was Friday night that things changed.”—gave me chills.

    My daughter works in St. Paul, and around midnight on Thursday she was coming home and ran out of gas near University and Vandalia. I was super worried at first, but honestly she was fine. She was at a gas station (that was closed down), and looters were there, but they checked to make sure she was OK! The general impression I got was it was a friendly, party atmosphere. Like you said, Friday night was totally different.

  10. Thank you for this. May it be shared widely. All my gratitude for your ability and your focus to get this all documented while living through it. ♥️

  11. Yeah, that ties out with what I was seeing (from the shelter, I hasten to add, of my home), but much more thoughtfully expressed.

    Not sure where it fits into the picture, but I’ll also mention that Thursday morning I was walking down Nicollet Avenue (had made a run to the downtown Target) and I saw at least some minor property damage there — a couple of cell phone stores with broken windows, and also some people had apparently gone into that liquor store on Franklin & Nicollet.

    • And have we heard any follow-up from SPPD after the tweet, was it Friday night, about stopping multiple plateless cars but then the occupants would scatter? And apparently there was one where they stopped the car and the guy tried to douse it with gasoline and burn it?

    • There are some stores that apparently make a really tempting target for smash-and-grab burglary if you know the police are tied up, and liquor stores and cell phone stores are near the top of the list.

  12. Something to consider – according to the Star Tribune, the men who set the Dakota County courthouse on fire are from Long Lake.

    • Also, thank you so much for writing this. It is well written and I appreciate it as someone who has been living this in South Minneapolis. Also, I did not know about the MPD history of slowing response times. Thanks for making me aware of this. I think it’s a mix of people with different ideologies. Most of the cars we have seen have had white occupants. However, 2 cars had white and black occupants who were working together. For example, they circled and parked by a looted wallgreens at 3 am, went in briefly and drove away fast during curfew. When we called 911 as fast as possible, they already had a report that the fire alarm was triggered.

  13. The “groups of white men without license plates” correspond really well to the anarchist groups in Dillon’s neighborhood (Powderhorn). They were a bunch of white people who worked out of a local church and were supporting the protests. No plates, organized. Very local. Very not-white-supremacist.

    Anyone can take their plates off their car, and anyone intending to do illegal things would be wise to do so.

  14. I live in Seward and my experience has been very different from yours. It’s undeniable that white supremacists have targeting POC in Minneapolis for a long time, and for me, likely with an increase in their activity since the precinct was burned down. But what I’ve seen here in Seward is that the hyping of these risks–very real for POC–have lead to white homeowners organizing neighborhood watches where literally every person and car going in and out of the neighborhood were questioned. And I see people perpetuating second and third-hand info that morph from rumors to fact, even in this meticulously-written piece.

    This is admittedly anecdotal, but my Somali neighbor next door does not feel more safe due to these patrols–she feels less safe. Some of my neighbors are questioning the idea of calling the police, but many more I saw thanking our state rep (Jim Davnie) for trying to get a BIGGER presence of the national guard in the neighborhood. I should note that although we have a very diverse neighborhood, virtually everyone I’ve seen in our defense group is white.

    Is neighborhood defense the right place for white allies to be placing their energy right now? tAny discussion of these arsons and subsequent defense needs to take into account these problematic dynamics. I’m not saying this is true in every neighborhood but I have friends in Kingfield, NE, and North who report similar dynamics or worse.

    Personally I’d like to see this intense organizing around white property defense to be redirected towards supporting BIPOC folks, both protecting their businesses seriously in danger but even more, turning out neighbors to racial justice actions. Or at least, it’s what some of us are hoping to do in Seward.

    • Matt, thanks for your comment (I realize I’m quite late to the discussion). I agree with you. Our block group is essentially all white homeowners, and some of them certainly have displayed their bigoted and/or busybody tendencies during the last several weeks. I really lost my temper when one of them posted a photo of 2 Black girls (4th graders) walking with “a dog” (a chihuahua) down the sidewalk and allegedly “trying to enter houses.” One of these girls and their Mom are family friends who were visiting other friends in the neighborhood on a weekend afternoon and walked over to say hi to us as well. We had a socially distant conversation with them in our yard. I responded to the group that we should not all lose our minds when we see young people who happen to be Black on our block. Furthermore, these little girls were local residents and the children of highly educated professionals — obviously not there to loot and riot. Clearly, so much work remains to be done!

  15. Final note: having a bit of a troll-like impulse myself (though hopefully not acted on), I can also completely imagine a right winger seeing what’s happening, taking off their license plates and just driving around seeing what’s going on, or even leaving a random gas can around with a proud boy sticker. I wouldn’t even put it past the cops to do something like this. Not saying any of this is true, but it feels worth considering as a possibility.

  16. Thank you.

    I am going to suggest that the correct strategy going forward is for the mayor, police chief, city council, and DA to cooperate in running a RICO-style (but state level) prosecution against the “Police Federation of Minneapolis”, which is Mr Kroll’s crime gang. Once they’re being prosecuted, they can be decertified as a union and any remaining union members can be fired for gang membership.

    That’s one way to clean up a police department which has been taken over by a crime gang.

  17. I just discovered this post today, but I appreciated finding it even at this later date. I live 1 mile east of the 3rd precinct near Lake Street. All of this stuff happened very close to my home and affected businesses and public resources I visited regularly. We lost 2 grocery stores, banks, gas stations, Target, 2 pharmacies, our post office. It was difficult to find a gas station during this time until I finally found one downtown that was literally being guarded by the national guard! Our block group set up a neighborhood watch and we all took overnight shifts. The night of the 1st curfew and when the 5th precinct was under attack was truly scary! I packed “go bags” for our family, and a friend from Powderhorn Park area left with her 2 girls and numerous pets to a hotel. I agree with your assessment that much of the fire setting was done by white males — there is plenty of video to document this. This is also why it was such a scary time, at least for me. I can understand rioting by “the unheard” (to quote MLK, Jr.) and there was very good reason for these expressions of outrage and despair. However, lawless individuals descending on our community with the intent to add to the chaos and destruction really changed what was going on and made the situation so much more uncertain. We are hoping that our neighborhood businesses will return and that needed social change will happen in our little corner of Minneapolis. We have been in our house for 15 years and love it here. Black Lives Matter!

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