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Police clear out 4th Precinct protesters; 'It was time' Hodges says


Minneapolis police moved to clear out the ongoing protests outside the department's Fourth Precinct early Thursday.

Officers arrived shortly before 4 a.m., according to multiple reports.

MPR News says police told protesters they had 10 minutes to vacate the camp, which had been set up about two weeks ago following the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark on Nov. 15.

Officers in riot gear and others operating heavy machinery moved people out of the way, set up barricades, and dismantled the tents, KSTP reports.

Most protesters were gone by 6 a.m., MPR news says.

In response, Black Lives Matter set up a Thursday afternoon rally at City Hall to address what they call "continued brutality against peaceful protesters."

Hodges, Harteau speak

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Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janeé Harteau addressed the situation at a morning news conference.

Both said it was clear the occupation – which had essentially closed Plymouth Avenue, and led to noise and property damage complaints from residents – was not going to move out on its own.

“It was time," Hodges said. "We have been balancing the safety needs of the precinct with the right for people to protest and have their voices be heard.”

She also thanked both the protesters and police officers involved for the peaceful outcome and withdrawal Thursday morning.

Hodges said she's "consistently" been having conversations with activist groups and leaders since Nov. 15, adding mediation and discussions still "need to be ongoing."

According to Harteau, eight people were arrested – seven for obstruction and one for trespassing. No injuries were reported.

According to activists on Twitter (including @thekingjobe and @colocha_rachel), some of those that were arrested were cited then released at about 6:30 a.m.

Harteau said they took a "considerable amount of time" to plan the eviction, getting help from Metro Transit, Hennepin County, Minneapolis Fire and more.

“We will continue to support and facilitate your first amendment rights and free of speech," Harteau said, noting police have allowed marches and rallies to continue. But, she added, they "will also support and enforce” Minneapolis ordinances and Minnesota state law.

Harteau, when asked by a reporter, noted the last figure she heard for the police overtime bill was $750,000.

Calls to disband, complaints from neighbors

The decision to clear out the Fourth Precinct demonstration came two days after elected officials began asking activists to voluntarily move.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (whose district includes Minneapolis) joined with Mayor Betsy Hodges earlier this week in saying the demonstrators should remove their makeshift camp because of safety and neighborhood concerns.

Ellison, who is black and Muslim, has since been branded by some protesters as a “sellout,” according to the Associated Press.

Plymouth Avenue outside the station has essentially been closed due to the encampment, and there have been reports of emergency vehicles slowed down by the crowd.

The Star Tribune reports some residents who live nearby went to a Minneapolis City Council Public Safety Committee meeting Wednesday, telling officials about their frustrations with the ongoing blocked street, noise and property damage.

Demonstrators have said they refused to leave until surveillance video of the shooting is released – though officials have said that's won't happen while the investigation is still ongoing.

Tweets from the scene

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