Groups aiming to cause destruction amid peaceful protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd has led to findings of what authorities believe to be to believe an organized plan of attack.
John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS), said at a 7 p.m. press conference Sunday that authorities have discovered "caches of incendiaries" and a "cache of stolen vehicles" that the vandals are using.
"We are now finding caches of incendiaries all over the metro area and greater Minnesota adjacent to spots where fires have been set or where we've had large riot confrontations," said Harrington.
They've also discovered the presence of "what we believe to be a cache of stolen vehicles with the plates removed that are used to transport these flammables."
One such incident happened in Bloomington on Sunday morning, with Harrington saying a traffic stop resulted in the driver getting out, pulling out a gasoline can and then dousing the vehicle himself and tried to light the car on fire.
A BMTN reporter was actually on a bike ride in Bloomington when they saw a plume of smoke on the south side of I-494, and as they neared the fire was put out but the remnants of a charred van remained (photo at the top of the story). It's unclear if this is the car fire Harrington spoke of, but there was a significant police and fire presence at the scene on westbound American Blvd. just east of Lyndale Ave.
The flammables include bottles of gasoline and gasoline mixes, often discovered in or around areas where heated protests or riots have taken place.
"We have found them in areas that were having heated protests. We found them in neighborhoods in the Lake Street area where there have already been fires over the last several days, and we've seen them in cars that we've stopped as recently as this morning," he said.
Harrington believes the flammables may have been planted 3-4 days ago, or even more recently within the past 24 hours.
Due to what could be another volatile situation on the streets Sunday night, a curfew in Minneapolis and St. Paul and surrounding suburbs – and some cities in greater Minnesota – is in place, beginning in the Twin Cities at 8 p.m.
"Officers will be enforcing the curfew tonight again. I will beg you: Please stay home. Please stay with your businesses. Please stay with your families. Please do not go out and about," said Harrington.
"We want you to be safe and the safest place for you tonight in this very troubling time – as we're finding incendiaries, we're finding weapons, we're finding folks driving around vehicles that are set up to avoid detection – the safest place for you is at home."
Harrington said the violence in Minnesota has "shades of the case in Charlottesville," which saw white nationalists riot in Virginia.