A seemingly flustered Minneapolis police chief called a late-day press conference on Wednesday to address widespread July 4 chaos in several areas of the city overnight Tuesday to Wednesday.
For the second year in a row, Minneapolis quickly descended into lawlessness as dark set in on Independence Day with mobs of juveniles shooting fireworks at police, civilians, homes, and vehicles in Dinkytown, the Mill District, Boom Island, Minnehaha Park, and the south Minneapolis lakes area.
The chaos went on for hours with reports of groups numbering up to 500 juveniles lighting off illegal fireworks and creating massive disruptions which overwhelmed and outnumbered police, according to dispatch audio by police throughout the late-night hours.
Despite overnight social media reports of juvenile chaos, several shootings — including a homicide — heavy police activity and a State Patrol helicopter circling areas of the city well into the early morning hours, Twin Cities media barely addressed or downplayed the numerous incidents throughout their morning broadcasts and reports.
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara even told one station in an early morning on-camera interview that “things turned out better than last year.” TV station KSTP even issued a since-deleted report before 11 p.m. on July 4 declaring “Minneapolis enjoys quieter Fourth of July than 2022.”
But as more reports and videos began surfacing throughout the day, public outrage appeared to grow at the lack of comment from officials and lack of media coverage about the chaos, possibly pressuring the police chief into making a public statement.
The chief held a press conference at City Hall which began at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in which he addressed the “targeting of innocent people with fireworks” and other unlawful behavior he called brazen, reckless, and at times dangerous and egregious.
PRESS CONFERENCE UNDERWAY.
-16 people arrested (we'll post some, stay tuned)
-Dozens of extra officers, State Patrol, HennCo deputies
-Roads were shut down
-Four shootings in a short period of time
-Police "kept groups on the run"
-"Crime is down" pic.twitter.com/zNXlL3vHex
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) July 5, 2023
Chief O’Hara said 16 people had been arrested in the incidents, including five adults and 11 juveniles. Jail records show a handful of adult suspects holding on probable cause charges of riot, second-degree assault, and fleeing police. Alpha News will follow up once the suspects are officially charged. Additionally, several people also received citations, the chief said.
In addition to “doubling” MPD staffing this holiday over July 4, 2022, the chief said several officers from other agencies were called in to assist with the incidents, including State Patrol and Hennepin County deputies. However, O’Hara ultimately stated that the current MPD staffing shortage is “unsustainable.”
O’Hara said police efforts were hampered by four shootings in a short period of time as well as hundreds of other calls for service while the chaos played out.
Twelve people total were shot over the holiday weekend, O’Hara said, and called it “progress” that the number of shooting victims was half of what it was during the same holiday last year. The chief went on to tout an overall decrease in violent crimes and murders this year over last year.
O’Hara said no innocent victims were seriously injured in the mayhem. However, one of the perpetrators had a firework explode that reportedly caused a serious injury to the male’s abdominal area. The chief said he wasn’t aware of any reports of serious property damage as a result of the fireworks attacks.
The chief was asked about the effectiveness of the controversial closing of the Stone Arch Bridge during the overnight hours for several days during the holiday weekend, which seemed to have more widely dispersed the troublemakers into other areas of the city. The chief responded that it would have been “irresponsible” not to try to address the location where problems had occurred in the past.
In the end, O’Hara chalked up the mayhem to “kids screwing around.”
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.