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The mob mentality that Gov. Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter allowed to terrorize the Twin Cities for several days following the death of George Floyd in police custody has traveled up I-94 to St. Cloud. Violence broke out late Sunday night in the wake of an arrest of an 18-year old man with a firearm who allegedly shot and wounded a St. Cloud police officer in the process.
The officers on the scene never returned fire, but that didn’t discourage dozens of individuals from going on a rampage anyway following false reports of a fatal shooting making the rounds on social media.
Taking a cue from rabble-rousers who burned down the Minneappolis Police Department’s Third Precinct station, the emboldened troublemakers attempted to besiege the St. Cloud Police Department, according to local media reports.
During that arrest, the suspect fled and a police officer was shot in the hand when he was apprehended. The incident sparked false rumors of Black men being shot, which triggered that crowd to march to St. Cloud police headquarters, doing damage along the way and eventually at the police station early Monday morning.
Afterward, St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson stood up for his officers, who repelled the rioters and held the station.
“Things can get blasted all over creation right now and it is very reckless, in my opinion, it is very dangerous. This is the kind of thing that could have escalated, and I am deeply concerned about that kind of stuff,” said Police Chief Blair Anderson.
“I’m deeply concerned that if we continue to alienate, there’s going to be a lot of good police officers that are going to walk away and we’re going to be in a lot of trouble. We really truly are.”
But the agitators picked up where they left off the following evening with reports of numerous gunshots ringing out in the city.
The police release about unrest Monday night into Tuesday morning said while officers were investigating the initial shots fired call, numerous people started to congregate in the area, eventually taking over the roadway and blocking traffic. Police located no gunshot victims.
Individuals in the crowd began to throw rocks at officers and passing vehicles before the liquor store was breached. Multiple people entered the store, stealing items and causing damage, the release said.
Once again, police supported by officers from numerous other jurisdictions eventually broke up the looters, arresting nearly 40 individuals overnight. Later on activists complained about the cops’ successful use of tear gas to get the chaos under control, but Chief Anderson again refused to back down.
When some of those who had gathered continued to question the use of force, Anderson raised his voice and said, “People were shooting at us last night. Bullets were flying all over the south side last night.”
A few of the community members said they didn’t know the extent of the situation — that people were setting fires or stealing from businesses.
“Stop making excuses for people who are wreaking havoc,” Anderson said, later adding, “We’re sitting on a powder keg.”
Anderson made it clear George Floyd’s death “sickened” and “embarrassed” him as a police officer and African American. But as Mayor Dave Kleis and he stated in a letter following Floyd’s death, law enforcement has to earn the public’s respect every day, respect that starts with ensuring the public safety.