Two Minneapolis men are facing charges in connection to the widespread chaos that broke out across the city on the Independence Day holiday.
Zamir Abdulkadir Yassin, 18, is facing one felony count of second-degree riot while armed with a dangerous weapon; Iyub Qays Ali, 20, has been charged with a felony count of fleeing police in a vehicle, a gross misdemeanor count of third-degree riot, and two misdemeanor counts of fifth-degree assault.
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.
Minneapolis police officers were dispatched to the intersection of 36th Street West and Bde Maka Ska Parkway on a report of a vehicle on fire around 11:30 p.m. July 4.
They arrived to find a crowd of over 300 people and observed “fireworks exploding all around,” some hitting squad cars, vehicles, and bystanders.
A State Patrol helicopter and Minneapolis SWAT team were called in to assist with the massive crowd. A Minneapolis officer began driving his squad car along the parkway in an attempt to disperse the crowd, at which point Yassin started firing Roman candle-style fireworks at the officer’s vehicle, according to the charges. The officer could see burn marks on his windshield from the fireworks, the charges say.
Once the fireworks were spent, the officer exited the vehicle, chased Yassin across the street, and placed him under arrest, according to the complaint.
Around the same time, unarmed Minneapolis park patrol agents were responding to a call of people blocking traffic and shooting off fireworks at Boom Island Park. At one point, a white Dodge Charger began speeding towards their squad and launching mortar fireworks at them.
Park police officers then arrived on the scene and saw fireworks being launched from a driver’s side window of the Charger at the park agents’ vehicle. The officers activated their emergency lights, which is when they saw the driver of the Charger drop a box of large fireworks from the vehicle and speed off. They did not pursue the vehicle.
Minneapolis police officers stopped the vehicle July 12 for a traffic violation and discovered that it was involved in the July 4 incident. Ali was identified as the driver, a criminal complaint says. The park police officers who observed the July 4 incident confirmed that Ali matched the suspect description.
Ali told police that the Charger is registered to his mother, but he is its primary driver. He admitted to being in the Boom Island area that night but denied that any fireworks were launched from his vehicle and said he wasn’t aware that police were trying to stop his vehicle because of the chaotic scene.
The criminal complaint says a cellphone video of the incident “clearly shows fireworks being launched from the driver’s side of the Dodge Charger, which is stopped and pointed in the direction of the marked squad car.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said 16 people total were arrested in the incidents, including five adults and 11 juveniles.
Crime Watch Minneapolis contributed to this report.