Minneapolis, MN – Police targeted and arrested a group of protesters after a large ‘Justice for Jacob Blake’ march, culminating in over a dozen arrests later in the night. Nearly 1,000 people had gathered in downtown Minneapolis on August 24, the day after Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The targeted arrests signal a new shift for Minneapolis Police, yet law enforcement in the Twin Cities has a long history of targeting activists. In an exclusive interview, Unicorn Riot sat down with two of the protesters targeted for arrest and heard their perspectives on the ordeal (below).
The demonstration seeking justice for Blake and in solidarity with Kenosha began at the Government Center.
After an array of speakers, the masses marched to the 1st Precinct and back. Unicorn Riot was live for the demo, see below.
On Sunday, August 23, police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin brazenly shot Jacob “Jake” Blake, father of three, after he broke up a fight between two women. In response to the near-fatal shooting, the Kenosha community revolted in a night of uprising against police terror. Police at the scene of the shooting were attacked by the crowd, who then set their sights on police and government institutions along with other Kenosha buildings and a car dealership.
Organizers in Minneapolis were quick to plan an emergency solidarity rally. Multiple groups showed up to serve as security, including Bikers Riding Against Police Brutality and members of the Original Black Panther Party.
While speeches were being made, graffiti saying “you won’t sleep” was spray-painted on a window of the 1st Precinct. As the crowd was leaving the area, some took down the USA flag that had been flying at the 1st Precinct.
After the march returned near the government center, a flag was burned as final speeches were made, and most of the crowd dispersed.
Meanwhile, a dozen squad cars and a unit of bicycle police sat in waiting about four blocks south of the area, behind a building near the vehicle of a protester. When the event ended and a group of friends walked to their car down 4th Avenue near 8th Street, they were swarmed and arrested by officers from each side of the street and sidewalk. Some of the youths were tackled.
The group was tackled & bloodied over potential misdemeanor charges. Some were let go uncharged.
Many more were arrested thru the night. pic.twitter.com/Uw5ulf7AY4
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 25, 2020
Eight people in total were detained during this targeted police action after the demo. Six were taken into custody, and five were charged; all five are Black or Indigenous.
Of the three released, two of them were white and were let go immediately. The other was bloodied from the police encounter and was released before being booked.
Although the arrests happened after the march and out of the purview of hundreds of protesters, word of the interaction spread fast and protesters gathered back at the 1st Precinct demanding the group be released.
Protesters then marched to the jail with a caravan of ten or so cars. Dozens of supporters set up jail support outside the jail with a mic and speaker system.
A projector shone imagery onto the walls of the building, including messages of solidarity for those imprisoned. Unicorn Riot went live for a brief update from the scene (below).
The crowd in front of the jail was boisterous in their demands of releasing those arrested. During the night, the front doors of the Hennepin County Safety Facility were smashed, and police made numerous additional arrests.
Police form a perimeter around the jail. Most protesters have left the area, only a dozen or so remain. pic.twitter.com/q9XVcrPmok
— Ben Hovland (@benjovland) August 25, 2020
In total, over a dozen arrests were made in the aftermath of the Justice for Jacob Blake rally in Minneapolis. All those arrested have been released.
The feeling expressed from the youth that were surrounded and arrested after the demo was that they were targeted as retaliation for their activism at the George Floyd Memorial Square.
“Black people feel targeted but I personally feel targeted—me and my peoples. Five out of ten of my peoples got arrested last night, including me and all we [were] doing was protesting peacefully.” — D, arrested after Justice for Jacob Blake rally
The youth that was roughed up and then released told Unicorn Riot that he felt the police didn’t give him any charges because they didn’t want his bloodied face as a mug shot.
When asked if the actions of the police were going to deter the youth from continuing their activism, those arrested all said “no“.
The two arrestees we interviewed specifically stated reasonings for staying active. The bloodied youth said that he’s doing this for his two bi-racial sisters, as he fears for their safety in terms of the State. And D, while pointing to the large power fist sitting at the intersection of 38th and Chicago, said that he can’t stop now after “coming this far“, and that he’s doing this for the “future generations“.
The city’s push to re-open the streets surrounding the memorial site is on a brief hold after the community declared their intents to defend the space and presented the “justice resolution“. The community continues to hold its ground and operate a peaceful sanctuary in an autonomous zone.
Protests continue to sweep the nation since the uprising after George Floyd was killed by police in late May. Since then, Minneapolis has become ground zero for the international movement against racism and police violence.
Simultaneously, federal law enforcement have flocked to the area and are providing the state with policing assistance to an already amped-up metro surveillance system. In 2018, Minneapolis hosted the Super Bowl and was garnished with all the latest surveillance trinkets as the city started the normalization of having National Guard on ‘state active duty’ patrolling Minneapolis streets.
When the authorities aren’t using their expansive tech tools, they’ve been found to be utilizing social media to target organizers and protesters. Two years ago, a Unicorn Riot investigation revealed that Saint Paul Police used Facebook to track and target Justice for Philando Castile protesters.
Last year, we found that Jeff Rugel, a lieutenant stationed at the Strategic Information Center with the Minneapolis Police, was using “sock” accounts on social media to monitor Justice for Jamar Clark protests while gathering intelligence on individuals. (The Strategic Information Center, built after the I-35W bridge collapse, is a police fusion center located at 25 37th Ave. N.E. in Fridley, off East River Road near the rail yard. Some Twin Cities corporate media have made a point of refusing to identify its location.)
As the movement for Black lives and against police violence continues to push for structural change, the government has been responding in a multitude of ways to bring forth both covert and overt tactics to repress First Amendment rights.