White supremacist groups have been encouraging members to travel to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to take part in violence and mayhem amid the growing protests following the death of George Floyd, top state officials warn.
Floyd, a black man, died in police custody on Monday, with video showing a police officer pressing a knee into Floyd’s neck and keeping it there even as the 46-year-old man pleaded that he could not breathe. In the wake of Floyd’s death and the four days that it took for the officer to be arrested, protests grew across the Twin Cities area and turned violent, with protesters early on Friday breaching the barricade around a police precinct where the arresting officers were stationed and setting it on fire.
As Minnesota officials reported this weekend, many of those leading the violence are believed to have come in from outside the area, including some believed to be from white supremacist groups. Courthouse News reported that John Harrington, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Safety, said that officials are “contact-tracing” those arrested to see where they are coming from and are investigating postings from white supremacist groups encouraging members to use protests as a way to spread violence and sow chaos.
Minnesota public safety commissioner says white nationalists are organizing and coming to the state for violence and destruction. In other words, white supremacists are following Trump's lead. pic.twitter.com/nKXHXnzSsb— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) May 30, 2020
Others have picked up on the activity from white supremacist groups. Joy Reid of MSNBC noted that these groups are encouraging members to take part in looting in the city.
He adds that white nationalist groups are posting messages promoting going to Minneapolis to “get our loot on” and cause mayhem. He says they will investigate those using the outrage over the murder of George Floyd as a “cover” for illegal activity— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) May 30, 2020
There may be larger goals for the white supremacist groups encouraging members to take part in violent protests, Vice reported. The report noted that a group known as the Boogaloo Bois — anti-government extremists that wear Hawaiian shirts and aim to spark what they believe will be a violent civil war with the government — have been advertising the protests, with reports that some members have taken part.
As the report noted, these groups oppose police but do not share in the goal of addressing structural racism that protesters say underpin their movement.
“Their approach to police brutality links the victims of the deadly standoff with federal agents at Ruby Ridge in 1992, to the victims of modern police brutality, including Floyd,” the Vice report noted. “But unlike the vast majority of protesters, they refuse to acknowledge the fact that police brutality is an issue that disproportionately impacts people of color.”
With more protests planned for Saturday, local leaders have pleaded for calm and Donald Trump has threatened federal action against those resorting to destruction or violence.