The Minneapolis police station that's been the site of conflicts between protesters and officers this week was still crowded but calmer on Thursday evening, with some activists urging patience and restraint while the shooting death of Jamar Clark is investigated.
Congressman Keith Ellison was among those who spoke to the protest group at the Police Department's fourth precinct headquarters. Ellison told demonstrators quality investigations take time, KARE 11 reports, and said all parties involved in Clark's shooting deserve a full review of the facts.
An Instagram post from Matt Moberg described how "hundreds of strangers young and old, black and white, rich and poor, held hands and bowed heads together to pray."
The scene was a contrast to the previous night's series of confrontations between protesters and police, who took steps to break up an encampment demonstrators have set up in front of the precinct closest to where Clark was shot.
More details about those conflicts emerged earlier in the day, when police chief Janeé Harteau said molotov cocktails were thrown at officers, and gunshots were fired their way following the standoff late Wednesday.
Harteau blamed "anarchists" and people from "outside our community coming in to perpetrate violence" on the attacks toward police officers she said happened in the early hours of Thursday after "many protesters had left."
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, she said three molotov cocktails were thrown at officers, and shots fired in another part of the district, but no suspects have been tracked down.
Harteau also criticized the actions of some of those protesting Clark's shooting, some of whom she said "threw bottles, hundreds of rocks, and bricks" at officers outside the precinct.
This apparently caused $25,000-worth of damage to city police cars and $13,000 damage to two portable cameras that were knocked over. Damage was also done to precinct windows and a retaining wall, the value of which has not been determined.
Police in response used a "chemical irritant" on protesters and shot two of them with "marking rounds" that identified them as suspects. Police have also said that protesters used mace on officers, a claim disputed by some protesters.
Harteau was joined at the press conference by North Minneapolis community activists who called for calm on both sides, as well as city Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she is committed to ensuring an independent investigation into Clark's death.
But she also reiterated she cannot release surveillance footage taken from the time he was shot – one of the key demands of protesters – as the footage is a part of the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and FBI investigation into the shooting.
Activists call for police to show 'restraint' during protest
Earlier on Thursday, activists and community leaders reiterated their demands while also calling for police to use restraint and enact long-term reform within the department.
Protesters have been demonstrating outside of the precinct since Sunday, hours after Clark was shot in the head by police and later died. Activists have said they'll stay there until video of the incident is released.
Those protests escalated late Wednesday after police worked to clear demonstrators from the atrium of the police station. In addition to mace and marking rounds, the group Neighborhoods Organizing for Change also accused police of using rubber bullets.
At a news conference outside of the Fourth Precinct Thursday, the NAACP, Black Lives Matter and other community members addressed their "lingering concerns" and the "dehumanizing" way people were treated following the shooting, a news release says, which has created anger and distrust within the community, FOX 9's Paul Blume tweeted.
Activists also called for the police department to "exercise maximum restraint" and refrain from using "chemical weapons and rubber bullets" when dealing with peaceful protesters.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, the president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, also spoke at the news conference, saying she has received reports that two female protesters were beaten by police in an alley during Wednesday night's protests, noting there may be video of the incident so witnesses are asked to come forward, KARE 11 says.
She called for protests to remain peaceful, asked that grief counselors be made available for the community in wake of the shooting, and said there's an urgent need for reform and accountability within the Minneapolis Police Department, both now and long term.
Activists also called for an independent investigation into the shooting, which the Department of Justice has already said it would do.
KARE 11's Dylan Wohlenhaus streamed the news conference on Periscope; watch it here.
National NAACP plans vigil Friday
Leaders of the national NAACP organization were also at the news conference in an effort to stand in solidarity with the local chapter and to show police "we are watching."
The president of the national organization will be in Minneapolis Friday for a candlelight vigil and march starting at 4:30 p.m. outside of the Fourth Precinct.
The protests are also drawing support from around the country.
Community leaders meet with Hodges
Before Thursday's news conference, community leaders spoke with Mayor Betsy Hodges at her office, where they also requested police refrain from using weapons and asked for them to stand down during peaceful protests, in addition to long-term demands regarding police reform.
Hodges told them she would try to make sure law enforcement were "as good of actors as possible," WCCO reports, called Clark's death "awful," and argued she's been a consistent fighter for addressing racial inequality issues.
A Twitter user identifying herself as Ashley Fairbanks streamed the meeting on Periscope, and you can watch it here.
Hodges spoke Wednesday afternoon and released a statement late that night asking for both protesters to act peacefully and police officers to show restraint. Demonstrators took to social media to ask her to be more visible, and even went to her house where they were invited in (though Hodges was not present).
Protests continue at 4th Precinct
Protesters continued to gather at the Fourth Precinct in North Minneapolis Thursday, despite below-freezing temperatures and some snow. Black Lives Matter Minneapolis says they'll stay there until the tapes are released.
Some tweets from the demonstrations: