ST. PAUL — Four Minnesota counties are set to impose curfews Monday night, April 12, following a fatal police shooting that spurred looting and rioting in Brooklyn Park Sunday.
Gov. Tim Walz on Monday, April 12, said that Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Dakota counties would declare a state of emergency and set a 7 p.m. curfew that would run through 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, April 13. The counties make up the Twin Cities metro area and surrounding cities. The Minnesota Twins, Timberwolves and Wild also announced Monday afternoon that they would postpone games that were scheduled in Minneapolis and St. Paul for Monday evening.
Minnesotans doing essential work and protecting their neighborhoods would be exempt from the curfew, the governor said. Those out looting or rioting would face the largest police presence in the state's history, Walz told reporters. The Minnesota National Guard, State Patrol, local police agencies and county sheriffs' departments from around the region were preparing to respond Monday evening.
The comments came a day after a Brooklyn Center police officer fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. The officer believed she was pulling her Taser and yelled out a warning that she was to fire the stun gun but instead shot Wright with her firearm, according to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon.
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Peaceful protests following the shooting on Sunday later turned to looting and rioting in the area. Walz and state law enforcement leaders on Monday said state and local agencies would be present throughout the Twin Cities to protect demonstrators protesting peacefully. Between 25 and 30 were arrested following the looting Sunday night, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said. And he along with others said anyone who planned to damage property or steal would face legal consequences.
"This state, this community and this nation need to have a place to grieve and to express in many places their anger that this continues to go on and their expectation that things need to be different and need to change," Walz said. "Minnesota is a place where we know that you can create space for grievances to be aired and First Amendment rights to be expressed and you can stop people from creating crimes or destruction to property and to people."
Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington on Monday said the 7 p.m. curfew was decided because law enforcement officers have a harder time enforcing curfew orders that begin after dark. Harrington said police agencies would work with faith leaders and community organizers to keep the peace throughout the region. Roughly 1,000 officers from various state and local law enforcement organizations would be on the ground Monday evening.
"We need to have community help us keep the peace and one of the ways they can do this we've seen in the past is by coming together in safe and lawful places like churches and synagogues and community centers. It really is in that kind of gathering where we think first amendment rights can be heard and yet they can be kept physically safe," Harrington said.
Minnesota Democrats on Monday called for broader police accountability measures to be taken up and passed in the Legislature in the wake of another fatal police shooting. Meanwhile, Republicans said a state investigation into the incident should be allowed to move forward.
"Once again, a young Black man who was beloved by his family and community was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. This painful statement could be recited by memory at this point," DFL lawmakers who comprise the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus said in a statement. "We strongly urge our Republican colleagues to join us in creating a public safety system that will protect the lives of people like Daunte Wright."
The Legislature in 2020 passed a set of police reform measures following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. Law enforcement groups have said they've not had enough time to implement those changes and have pushed back on proposed efforts to make bodycam footage available to family members of those killed by law enforcement within 48 hours and terminate officers' qualified immunity.
“There’s proven remedies that can be put into place but that will never happen if we don’t at least hold hearings on these things,” Walz said. The DFL governor demanded that lawmakers in the Senate hold hearings on the proposals that had passed through House committees.