My hopes that the protests in Minneapolis would stay calm took a major hit last night:
Five protesters were shot late Monday night near the Black Lives Matter encampment at the Fourth Precinct police station in north Minneapolis, according to police.
Those who were shot sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said police spokesman John Elder in a statement.
Miski Noor, a media contact for Black Lives Matter, said “a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.”
One of the three counterdemonstrators wore a mask, said Dana Jaehnert, who had been at the protest site since early evening.
When about a dozen protesters attempted to herd the group away from the area, Noor said, they “opened fire on about six protesters,” hitting five of them. Jaehnert said she heard four gunshots.
Since that story was written, Minneapolis police have arrested one 23-year-old male in connection with the shooting and will identify him when he is charged. What those charges will be is a guess at this point as there seems to be some contradictory evidence emerging.
The witness said a demonstrator came out of the crowd and punched one of the white men, and another man stepped back and reached toward his waistband.
“I was like, he’s got a gun, he’s got a gun,” said a second witness, who also covered his face on camera.
The demonstrators said the three men then walked away from the crowd and through a gate, where another protester punched one of the men, and the three men ran off with several protesters behind.
“I was like, they’ve got a gun — don’t follow them,” the second witness said. “Don’t chase them — they’re reaching for a gun.”
The witnesses said the men then stopped in an area where no cameras were present, turned around and opened fire on the six protesters who had been chasing them.
The confrontation begins at about the 2:50 mark in the video. Unfortunately, there is no audio to that version so it is impossible to know how the confrontation escalated and who was provoking whom.
It appears some chuckleheads decided to go looking for trouble and found it, though how this will play out in the legal system is not certain. Undoubtedly the suspects will plead self-defense if punches were being thrown and they were being pursued.
Emotions are running high and social media is alive with accusations of political and police indifference to the shooting and speculation on the motives of the shooters. And, of course, there is a lot of misinformation being spread that seems to me to be designed to inflame emotions even more.
There is a heavy far-left and anarchist presence among the black protesters. Many, perhaps most, are there out of genuine concern, but I'm certain that some are there to exploit the issue for their own gain. These are "you have to break some eggs to make an omelette" sort of revolutionary and they are perfectly happy to use the local black community as their shock troops. They are easy to spot, because for them it is not just about Jamar Clark, but that the whole system is corrupt and has to be taken down. Those people are not friends of the local black community.
As I wrote this post the story about the arrest has been updated to include a second arrest. Maybe that will deter other morons who may be thinking of a provoking a confrontation and emotions will have a chance to cool down. However, there's also a chance, just like in Ferguson, that the facts in both incidents do not support the narratives that have been established by protesters. Managing expectations if that comes to pass will be difficult.