Why did police use tear gas against BLM protesters but not against re-opening protesters?



Ed has already written about the riots in Minneapolis last night. However, there’s another angle on this which seems to be making the rounds at MSNBC. Here’s Chris Hayes arguing on this show last night that the police treatment of right-wing protesters has been vastly different from the response to protests over the death of George Floyd.

Hayes’ point is that the protesters in Minneapolis were treated differently because they are progressive, or maybe because they are minorities. But there’s more to the story than that. On Tuesday night, police were criticized for using tear gas and foam bullets against protesters but the mayor said the police chief took that action because some of the protesters were becoming violent and breaking into police vehicles.

Mayor Jacob Frey on midday Wednesday commended the “99 percent” of peaceful protesters and empathized with their desire to protest. But he said Chief Medaria Arradondo deployed the officers to stop protesters after some broke windows at the precinct building and in squad cars, both of which had live ammunition and guns inside.

“He told me that he could not run the risk of one tragedy leading to another,” Frey said. “Our chief made the decision and I support our chief. I trust his judgment.”…

As the protest marched to the Third Precinct, several demonstrators smashed windows and hurled objects at the precinct building. They then vandalized squad cars parked outside.

Officers in riot gear responded with force, flooding Lake Street with tear gas and flash-bangs and shooting fluorescent marking rounds and other less-lethal projectiles indiscriminately into the crowd.

There’s no doubt this actually happened because there’s video of it happening:

You can argue that the police response to the vandalism and violence was too harsh but you should at least admit they were responding to the illegal behavior of the crowd. The reporter who wrote that story was at the scene when it happened and said this at the time:

Protesters had also smashed the front door of the precinct:

You can see objects have been thrown at the glass where police are waiting inside:

Protesters were also threatening workers at the Target nearby.

And threw bricks at police cars:

Wednesday night was a repeat of Tuesday only worse:

A similar scene played out there late Wednesday. Protesters tossed bottles and rocks at officers, who again responded with projectiles, tear gas and flash bombs.

Also Wednesday night, looting broke out at the Lake Street Target store, where intruders carted off large TVs, clothing and food, and at nearby Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits.

Late Wednesday, protesters set fire to the AutoZone across the street from Third Precinct headquarters. While some protesters tried to put the fire out, others gleefully posed for selfies in front of the flames.

Here’s the looting at Target:

This is a grocery store called Cub as it appeared Thursday morning:

Here’s how it looked last night:

Here’s what it looked like Thursday morning:

There’s a difference between protesters who are loud and even belligerent and people throwing rocks at police, breaking windows, looting and setting things on fire. That may have been a small percentage of the overall protest, but it did happen. If Chris Hayes were really interested in why the police responded differently, he might have at least mentioned that the protesters (or a subset of them) also behaved differently. Simply put, a protest is one thing, but violent rioting is something else.





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