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George Floyd: Protester describes chaotic scene in Minneapolis

"It went from small rocks to complete chaos and destruction."
Protester Andy Swenson said some did not agree with the violence, and people on top of the police car were asking people to stop using violence.

Protester Andy Swenson said some did not agree with the violence, and people on top of the police car were asking people to stop using violence.

A rally for justice for George Floyd turned destructive as protesters clashed with police outside the 3rd Precinct in south Minneapolis. 

Floyd died while in police custody Monday evening. Video shows a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd's neck for five minutes and Floyd can be heard saying, "I can't breathe."

The four officers at the scene, at Chicago and 38th, were fired. The FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are investigating. And people in Minneapolis are demanding they be charged in Floyd's death.

Andy Swenson, who was at the protest around the 3rd Police Precinct in south Minneapolis Tuesday evening, told BMTN "The violence started very, very slow at first, but it increased exponentially in a matter of minutes." 

He estimates the first low-level property destruction lasted about 30 minutes and then in about five minutes "It went from small rocks to complete chaos and destruction."

"At this point, there was about 20-30 minutes of unstoppable destruction before the riot police came out," Swenson said. 

They destroyed a squad car and eventually breached the fenced parking lot at the 3rd Precinct, where they damaged a few officers' personal vehicles, Swenson said. About 10 minutes later, the tear gas came out.

From behind the station, police started shooting tear gas at the crowd, which most of the protesters couldn't see and it caught people off guard, Swenson said. 

"There is something about when you hear the first canisters of tear gas being fired when your adrenaline is so high that you almost forget it’s more than explosions because it takes about 15 seconds from when the can explodes to when it starts affecting your eyes and lungs," Swenson said. 

Some people picked up tear gas canisters and threw them back at the police. Meanwhile, there were medics in small groups ready to help people. They had water and milk for protesters' eyes to help with the burning from the tear gas. 

"Nearly every single person was wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Swenson noted.

Earlier in the evening, video has been shared showing a convoy of squad cars passing through protesters at 32nd and Chicago, with one officer using chemical irritant towards those involved in the demonstration.

Swenson says the police response at the 3rd Precinct started small initially. A small faction of riot police that came out started firing gas in the direction of the first police car that had been vandalized. Protesters stood their ground, but eventually the gas sent people back, "but we continued to regroup."

Then a second "much larger battalion of riot cops showed up," Swenson said, estimating there were close to 100 officers. That's when the "rubber bullets started," and people yelled "rubber bullets" to let other protesters know "because they were hard to notice amid the gas."

The rubber bullets and tear gas pushed the protesters back about 100 yards, but they stood there in the same numbers, Swenson said. 

"The gas could be inhaled as far away from the police station as Hiawatha. At this point, it completely engulfed all the protesters," Swenson said, noting that included children who were there in small numbers. 

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Not everyone agreed with the use of violence during the protests, Swenson said, noting there were disagreements among protesters on tactics being used. And the people on top of the police car, and many people around it, were trying to get people to stop the violence.

"One of the main points from the anti-violence crowd was that the property destruction made the protests about the protesters and not about George," Swenson said.

"These disagreements became heated at times but were drowned out by the sound of the riot. The general attitude was that this was the final straw and peaceful demonstrations at this point are futile. I would consider the radical resistance more of a theater, displaying the anger held by so many, rather than a protest tactic."

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