Minneapolis unrest after Winston Smith death continues into second night

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Minneapolis saw a second night of unrest Friday following Thursday’s fatal shooting of Winston Smith by law enforcement officers.

The evening’s protests came hours after authorities said Smith had fired a weapon before being killed. 

Protesters blocked traffic in the city’s Uptown area, using motorcycles, bike racks and dumpsters, the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported.

As of 11 p.m. local time Friday no arrests had been reported. But later posts on social media suggested that some protesters had been taken into custody.

Earlier in the evening, a crowd gathered at the parking ramp where Smith died following a confrontation with sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Marshal Service personnel, according to the newspaper.

In St. Paul, another crowd gathered outside the headquarters of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The group included members Smith’s family, the Star-Tribune reported.

Smith’s sister, Tiesnia Floyd, acknowledged her brother had a criminal record but claimed the confrontation with law enforcement seemed out of character for him.

“This doesn’t sound like him,” she told the newspaper, adding later, “I wish my brother was given a second chance. Even if it is in a cell, at least he would still be breathing.”

Court documents show Smith had 20 convictions, mostly for minor offenses,  but also for aggravated robbery in a case where his ex-girlfriend was beaten until her face was swollen and bloody.

Smith’s mother, Tijuana Wilson, said law enforcement officers were killing too many Black men.

“They know they was wrong when they did it,” she claimed about her son’s death, according to the newspaper.

In the afternoon, the area at Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis was shut down for much of the day as a crowd gathered there, FOX 9 of Minneapolis reported.

Around 7 p.m. police moved in, pushed the crowd out, removed barricades the group had set up and slashed tires on vehicles that were blocking the roadway, according to the station.

Police investigate a shooting as protesters gather on Thursday, June 3, 2021 in Minneapolis.  (Associated Press)

During the day, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said city police and other agencies were developing a response plan for Friday night’s unrest.

The mayor said First Amendment rights to demonstrate would be respected but looting and rioting would not be tolerated, according to the station.

Smith, 32, was shot by deputies from Ramsey and Hennepin counties on the top floor of a parking garage on Thursday afternoon as U.S. marshals were attempting to arrest him on a warrant for a felony firearms violation, FOX 9 reported.

Investigators with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension say evidence suggests Smith fired a weapon from inside a vehicle, with spent casings found on the driver’s side. They also claim there is no body camera or dash camera footage of the incident, FOX 9 reported.

Smith’s death was the latest in a region that has been on edge following two previous police-involved deaths of Black men: the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and this year’s death of Daunte Wright in the suburb of Brooklyn Center. A former police officer was convicted in April in Floyd’s death while three other former officers await trial, and a former Brooklyn Center office faces charges in Wright’s death.

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