Two law enforcement agencies confirmed Monday that Minnesota State Patrol troopers patrolling Minneapolis during recent protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death slashed the tires of numerous parked, unoccupied vehicles in at least two locations.
The state’s Department of Public Safety said in a statement that troopers had slashed the tires so the vehicles could not be used to attack other people, KSTP reported.
Video and photographs from Mother Jones showed officers in military-style uniforms puncturing tires in a Kmart parking lot on May 30, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported. Images the next day showed officers with knives puncturing the tires of two unoccupied cars, the newspaper reported.
“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,” Department of Public Safety spokesperson Bruce Gordon told the Star Tribune.
Gordon told the newspaper that the patrol had also targeted vehicles “that contained items used to cause harm during violent protests” such as rocks, concrete and sticks.
“While not a typical tactic, vehicles were being used as dangerous weapons and inhibited our ability to clear areas and keep areas safe where violent protests were occurring,” Gordon said. “As in all operations of this size, there will be a review about how these decisions were made.”
Deputies from Anoka County followed state orders and joined the patrol. Deputies also cut the tires on vehicles, Anoka County Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Knotz told the Star Tribune.
Knotz added that his deputies received their orders from the Multiagency Command Center. That agency had been coordinating law enforcement in the Minneapolis area since Floyd died May 25 when a police officer pinned his knee against the man’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Spokespersons for the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and the National Guard said their officers were not the ones shown damaging tires in the videos and photographs, the Star Tribune reported.
Los Angeles documentary producer Andrew Kimmel tweeted that the tires on his rental car were slashed in the Kmart parking lot, along with those of other vehicles.
“It was every single car that was in the parking lot,” Kimmel tweeted.
The tires belonging to the car of Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres were slashed in a Kmart parking lot while he was on foot covering the protests and unrest, the newspaper reported.
Protests in the aftermath of Floyd’s death have had looting, property damage and arson, The Associated Press reported. That prompted several cities to impose curfews.