Minneapolis activists expect Friday protests to be raucous after a US Marshals Service task force fatally shot a man they were trying to arrest the same day city authorities attempted to clear the area where George Floyd was killed.
The slain man was identified as Winston Boogie Smith Jr, a 32-year-old father of three, by Twitter users and Shelly Hopkins, his partner in a long-term relationship. Smith was wanted for illegally possessing a weapon, according to authorities.
Smith allegedly produced a weapon and fired before officers shot him in Minneapolis’ Upton neighbourhood, according to a statement released Thursday by the US Marshals.
Crowds gathered in the area on Thursday night, shouting confronting police and setting a dumpster on fire. Police said windows in some businesses were smashed.
— 🖤✨Human Hummingbird✨🖤 ❄️ (@riotousmuse) June 4, 2021
Nine people were arrested on possible charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property, police said.
On Friday, graffiti reading “Mpls still hates cops” and “No trial for them” marked the building next to the parking ramp where Smith was shot. A T-Mobile store and a pharmacy a few blocks down were boarded up and closed indefinitely after having their windows smashed.
Minneapolis activists told Al Jazeera there are plans to return to Uptown on Friday night.
No body cameras
Hopkins, Smith’s partner, told The Associated Press that Smith had been harassed by police since he was in high school. She feared he had been killed when she heard about the shooting, then saw his vehicle on the news.
While she was at the scene, she got a call from the office of the medical examiner confirming his death.
“We have a very big spiritual connection, and my intuition kicked in and I just had a feeling,” Hopkins said. “I knew something wasn’t right … I didn’t want to believe it.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the investigation, said Friday that two sheriff’s deputies — one from Hennepin County and one from Ramsey County — were the officers who fired their weapons, striking Smith.
The state investigators also said evidence indicates Smith fired his gun, saying a handgun and spent cartridge were found inside the car.
State investigators said a 27-year-old woman who was a passenger in the vehicle was taken to a hospital and treated for injuries from glass debris.
The US Marshals Service does not allow body camera usage for officers on its North Star Fugitive Task Force, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said, and there is no squad camera footage of the shooting.
Body camera footage has increasingly become a means of exposing police abuses during sometimes fatal encounters.
George Floyd Square
The city has been on edge since the deaths of Floyd, a Black man who died last year after he was pinned to the ground by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, and Daunte Wright, a Black motorist who was fatally shot in April by an officer in the nearby suburb of Brooklyn Center.
Tensions in Minneapolis had already risen Thursday after crews removed concrete barriers that blocked traffic at a Minneapolis intersection where a memorial to Floyd was assembled after his death.
Crews also cleared artwork, flowers and other items from 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Floyd was killed, informally known as George Floyd Square, but community activists quickly put up makeshift barriers.
Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death, and three other officers await trial on aiding and abetting charges.
Chauvin’s conviction was viewed as a step towards police reform in the US, and Floyd’s family has pressed politicians to pass the George Floyd Act, which would eliminate the use of chokeholds and legal immunity for police in civil suits, among other measures.
Former Brooklyn Center officer Kim Potter is charged with manslaughter in Wright’s death.