New video footage shows several police officers slashing car tires during Minneapolis protests without provocation.
In one clip, cops clad in military-style uniforms can be seen stabbing tires during a protest led near the state's I-35 West highway. But in a more puzzling turn, additional footage shows a parking lot full of slashed tires at the local Kmart.
Some protesters, news crews, and medics in Minneapolis found themselves stranded after recent protests: The tires of their cars had been slashed.
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) June 8, 2020
"Every car that's parked here has their tires slashed," notes content producer Andrew Kimmel in a video he posted on Twitter. "Every single car. Unbelievable. I can't get home now." Another vandalized car reportedly belonged to a local reporter covering the protests.
Bruce Gordon, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, conceded that police were responsible, according to The Star Tribune.
"State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement," he told the paper. He added that officers also honed in on vehicles "that contained items used to cause harm during violent protests," such as rocks or concrete, though it's difficult to believe every car at Kmart contained such items.
Anoka County Sheriff's Lt. Andy Knotz admitted that deputies from his department assisted in the effort after receiving orders from Minnesota's Multiagency Command Center.
The demonstrations that broke out across the city after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by former police officer Derek Chauvin have not been uniformly peaceful. Individuals and small groups in cities around the U.S. have vandalized, looted, and burned public and private properties. But much of the organized protesting has been peaceful—save for incidents where police introduced violence. The decision by police agencies to vandalize privately-owned vehicles and then claim to be acting in the interest of public safety speaks to why people are protesting police. It really feels like cops believe they can do whatever they want.
This is not the only example of police behaving violently in the name of reducing protest violence. As Reason's Eric Boehm notes, officers in Atlanta smashed the windows of a vehicle and tasered the two people inside because they were out after curfew. In a quiet Minneapolis neighborhood, members of the Minneapolis Police Department and the National Guard fired paint rounds at people who violated curfew by sitting on their own front porches, never mind that the city's curfew didn't apply to private property. Another video from Minneapolis shows a cop firing pepper spray at peaceful protesters downtown. That officer did so from a moving vehicle, where he or she was not in harm's way.
If the history of police accountability is any indication, the tire-slashing cops in Minneapolis won't face any legal consequences, which just adds fuel to the fire of protest.