The Anoka County Sheriff's Office has issued an explanation for why its deputies were slashing the tires of parked cars during the recent protests and riots in Minneapolis.
The sheriff's office in a Star Tribune article Monday was confirmed as one of two law enforcement agencies that slashed tires of vehicles, after video and images shared by Mother Jones showed the tires being slashed on cars parked in the Kmart lot at Lake Street on Saturday, May 30, and on S. Washington Avenue on Sunday, May 31. The other agency involved was the Minnesota State Patrol.
On Tuesday, Anoka County Sheriff James Stuart issued a press release providing more information following the publication of the Star Tribune's article, titled "The Truth Behind Tire Deflation During Minneapolis Riots."
He claims the Strib article "did not clearly articulate the decision-making processes and overall picture of the situation."
He says that on Sunday, May 31, Anoka County deputies and Minnesota state troopers were given the order to "disable illegally abandoned vehicles via tire deflation" by authority of the MACC (Multi Agency Command Center) and at the direction of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Stuart says his deputies were not involved in the Kmart tire slashing, but did say they were involved on S. Washington Avenue.
"The command was given to disable illegally abandoned vehicles via tire deflation, which were inside the law enforcement perimeter and obstructing law enforcement operations," he says.
"Two vehicles were illegally abandoned on the roadway of the bridge of S. Washington Ave. over I-35W. This procedure was done in order to preserve order, life, and safety of both the protestors and law enforcement that were present at this location.
"Life safety issues were a concern due to the previous two days of civil unrest in the City of Minneapolis, as rioters had used unoccupied vehicles as weapons."
Stuart says at the time the slashed the ties, his deputies were "attempting to restore order to the civil unrest of protestors and riot behaviors," though by the Sunday night the worst of the unrest had passed, with the protest on Washington Avenue proving a peaceful one that saw 150 arrested for curfew breaking, though one firearm was recovered at the scene.
But there had been concerns raised during the course of the unrest about suspicious vehicles dotted around the metro, with authorities stopping several to find they had been stolen, and there were "tools of havoc" inside.
And the night prior to the Washington Avenue tire slashing, there was incident on Pillsbury Avenue and Lake in south Minneapolis, in which person with a weapon fled in a vehicle, and "nearly rammed officers as he fled."
Stuart has been vocal this week about the Minneapolis City Council's intention to disband its police force in the wake of George Floyd's death, saying there would be "consequences" for doing so, and suggested his office has "no appetite" for going back into the city if it goes ahead.