The Minnesota Department of Public Safety confirmed Monday that officers from two law enforcement agencies slashed dozens of vehicles’ tires as part of the response to protests in Minneapolis last weekend.
Minnesota state troopers and deputies from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office punctured and deflated tires in “a few locations,” Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon told The Star Tribune.
“State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires ... in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement,” he said.
Gordon acknowledged that law enforcement slashing tires is “not a typical tactic,” but defended it as reducing the risk of vehicles “being used as dangerous weapons and inhibiting our ability to clear areas and keep areas safe.”
Several of the damaged cars belonged to reporters on the scene covering the protests that erupted following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. Journalists have repeatedly been targeted by law enforcement officers as they cover protests across the country.
In Minneapolis, police fired tear gas at reporters “at point-blank range,” according to a Los Angeles Times reporter, who said she was hit in the leg by a canister. And a Vice News reporter said he was thrown to the ground, held down and pepper-sprayed by police after identifying himself as press.
Freelance writer Linda Tirado said she’s “permanently blind” in her left eye after allegedly being hit by a rubber bullet or tracer round fired by authorities in Minneapolis at the end of May. Tirado said officers fired at her even after she’d identified herself as press.
Similar incidents occurred over and over across the U.S., including in Louisville, Kentucky, where cops fired pepper balls directly at TV reporter Kaitlin Rust and her cameraman:
Protests have upended cities across the globe following the death of the 46-year-old Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he gasped out the words, “I can’t breathe.”
On Sunday, a majority of Minneapolis City Council members announced support for dismantling the city’s police department in response to calls for fundamental changes in how the policing function is performed.