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Live: No injuries, truck driver arrested after driving into crowd of protesters on highway in Minnesota

Officers began clearing crowds with flashbangs and tear gas after the 8 p.m. curfew took effect Sunday.

MINNEAPOLIS — Sunday, May 31

  • Police warn of accelerants found in bushes in some Minneapolis neighborhoods
  • No one injured, truck driver arrested after driving into crowd of protesters
  • Police begin making arrests, deploying tear gas after curfew goes into effect
  • Thousands come out for peaceful protests earlier Sunday, calling for justice for George Floyd, no bail for officer charged in his murder
  • Gov. Walz puts MN AG Keith Ellison in charge of Floyd death investigation
  • MnDOT closes large stretches of metro highways beginning at 5 p.m.
  • Metro Transit service suspended through Monday

11:16 p.m.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says some of the people who have been causing violence in the Twin Cities are local, but officials are seeing a "very organized system" and know that some people are coming in from out of state.

"We have had reports of outside agitators," he said. "Yes there are reports of white supremacist organizations out there and we're looking into all of it."

"There are people out there right now in our city that are seeking to not just cause trouble, but wreck our city," he said.

Frey said they want people to be able to peacefully protest, but right now when people are out past curfew it makes it hard to distinguish "between the bad actors and the good ones."

Minneapolis police say incendiary materials and accelerants have been found "hidden in bushes and throughout neighborhoods in Minneapolis."

10:50 p.m.

Gov. Tim Walz held a news conference Sunday night saying that the "vast majority" of Minnesotans were abiding by the curfew.

He said the 8 p.m. cutoff point was important in helping law enforcement distinguish between peaceful protesters and those who were there for "something very different."

"We are seeing very few incidents," he said, and "some very respectful interactions" with protesters who were exercising their rights and got caught out past curfew.

Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell addressed the semi truck driver who drove into a crowd of protesters on Interstate 35W earlier in the evening, saying that law enforcement deployed some chemical irritants to get people off of the highway afterward.

He said some protesters tried to assault the driver, but "there was also a large number of people attempting to protect the man who was driving that truck."

"Ultimately we feel very fortunate that that situation on the bridge did not end any more seriously than it was," he said.

Schnell said they are investigating whether the driver intentionally tried to get around the barrier, and "exactly what the motive is I don't know," he said. The investigative findings will be presented to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

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No one was seriously injured in that incident, according to officials, and the driver was arrested.

Schnell also said about 250 people were encircled and arrested in a "slow and methodical" response in downtown Minneapolis near Washington Avenue, by Bobby & Steve's Auto World.

Protests were "largely peaceful" Sunday, Schnell said. One group of people rushed the fence around the Minnesota State Capitol, attempting to breach it, Schnell said. Gas was deployed and 10-12 or fewer people were arrested, Schnell said.

"At present the field commanders feel that they are in a good position," he said. "Other resources are there and working together collaboratively. Chiefs and sheriffs from all over the metro again wanting to achieve the objectives of protecting life, protecting property and restoring order, and we believe that's happening."

Schnell said fires are one of their biggest concerns and that they are being very strategic in their attempts to prevent those overnight. As of 10:47 p.m., he said they do not have any reports, although they have identified groups and people carrying improvised explosive devices and accelerants.

In response to concerns about white supremacist groups still in the Twin Cities, Schnell said that they do believe they are still present.

"There was posters put up various places around the Twin Cities as recently as yesterday last evening, speaking to kind of that movement," he said. "We believe that there is still a presence out there, we are mindful of these groups."

Schnell said that these are usually just one, two or three people who are agitators and bring in more people and a sense of "group think."

"The more we can contain and control and the more we can spread people so that agitators aren't able to amass these large groups of people that engage in wilder kind of behavior, that's the kind of thing we want to do," he said. 

Schnell said DPS does not want the instability of the week to be "further escalated by people who are engaging on white supremacist activity."

"There's definitely people still out there; we're confident that we're going to get teams out and on those people, we hope that people go home because if they don't we are going to continue arresting," he said.

The first court appearance for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death, has been set for June 8 at 1:30 p.m.

Protesters are still calling for charges against the other three officers involved.

10 p.m.

Minneapolis police say officers are responding to a report of looting at a Habitat for Humanity house under construction near the intersection of 24th Street East and 10th Avenue South.

The report comes after a relatively quiet night Sunday, with police deploying tear gas and flashbangs as they arrest protesters, but no news of looting or fires.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said earlier Sunday that his crews have been finding "caches of incendiaries all over the metro and greater Minnesota" near where fires have been set, or where there have been "large riotous confrontations." He and other law enforcement officials have reported investigating cars without license plates, as well.

Sunday began with hours of peaceful protest from thousands of demonstrators calling for justice for George Floyd. Just before 6 p.m., a near-tragedy occurred when a tanker truck drove into a large crowd of people walking on the Interstate 35W bridge, but officials reported later that no one was seriously injured. The driver has been arrested.

The Associated Press reports that at least 4,100 people have been arrested over the days of protests since George Floyd's death.

Gov. Tim Walz plans to hold a news conference to give an update to the public at 10:30 p.m.

9:31 p.m.

Police have surrounded a group of protesters by Bobby & Steve's Auto World in downtown Minneapolis, with one Twitter user saying that they were tear gassed after being surrounded.

KARE 11 reporter Lauren Leamanczyk watched police arresting those protesters one by one just after 9 p.m.

Minneapolis police say a firearm was confiscated near that group. The arrests they are making are for curfew violation, a misdemeanor. Generally that relatively minor charge comes with a fine, but not necessarily jail time.

A few of those protesters told Leamanczyk that they were on the I-35W bridge when a truck driver drove into the crowd at a high speed. They said they were not part of any looting, but some had come from out of town to protest.

RELATED: Officials see extremist groups, disinformation in protests

RELATED: Attorney General Keith Ellison to lead George Floyd investigation

The trucking company, Kenan Advantage Group, Inc., issued a statement Sunday saying the driver was an independent contractor.

"Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week," the statement reads in part. "Our first and foremost concern is for the safety and security of   the public, our employees and our customers."

KARE 11 reporter Danny Spewak also watched police make arrests outside the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul at about 9:30 p.m.

8:35 p.m.

A line of law enforcement officers is blocking Washington Avenue with guns drawn, a half hour after the 8 p.m. curfew went into effect Sunday night.

Officers have fired tear gas and flashbangs to disperse crowds of protesters.

Minneapolis police tweeted that a large group of peaceful protesters is on Washington Avenue at Interstate 35W, blocking traffic in both directions.

"Individuals within this group have been observed diffusing others who are showing aggression or anger," police said in the tweet.

The curfew falls after a day that was mostly peaceful, with thousands marching and calling for justice for George Floyd. A tanker truck drove into a crowd on the I-35W bridge just before 6 p.m., throwing that scene into chaos. Gov. Tim Walz says the driver has been arrested and there are no known reports of injuries.

8:12 p.m.

The Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety tweeted asking crowds to leave the area on I-35W between University and Washington Avenues.
"People are being given the lawful order to clear the area. If that order is refused, police may use tear gas as a dispersal mechanism," DPS tweeted.

Some crowds are headed toward U.S. Bank Stadium, where the rally started Sunday at 4 p.m., to carry out a "silent protest."

As the curfew hour fell at 8 p.m., law enforcement formed a line on I-35W to confront crowds marching along the freeway. KARE 11 reporter Lauren Leamanczyk witnessed flash bangs and tear gas among the crowd. Nearby, KARE 11's Boyd Huppert witnessed a handful of arrests, as well as law enforcement using some kind of projectile deterrent in their area as well.

8 p.m.

A curfew is in effect from 8 p.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday for Minneapolis and St. Paul.

There is no travel allowed in the streets unless you are a first responder, press, or traveling to or from work.

Many cities in the state have also set a curfew, including  Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Edina, Duluth, Golden Valley,  Richfield and St. Louis Park.

This list is not exhaustive. Check your local government website to see if your place of living is affected.

DPS said in a tweet that you can be on your porch, yard or patio but if law enforcement asks you to go inside you must follow their instructions.

Similarly, even if you are exempt from the curfew, if law enforcement or officials give you an instruction, you must comply, DPS said.

7 p.m.

"A horrifying image on our television," Gov. Tim Walz said in response to videos of a tanker truck driving "full force" into a crowd of peaceful protesters on Interstate 35W on Sunday.

Officials said the semi truck was on the freeway as it was being closed, but that it does not absolve the driver from driving into the crowd at speed.

Walz said the driver was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and was released shortly after. DPS has reported that he is under arrest.

"The truck drove through at high speeds," Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said. "We will have more information about the who and the what and the where ... as it further develops."

Harrington said his teams have been finding "caches of incendiaries all over the metro and greater Minnesota" near where fires have been set, or where there have been "large riotous confrontations."

DPS said in a tweet that you can be on your porch, yard, patio but if law enforcement asks you to go inside that you must obey.

He said as DPS prepared for Sunday and the upcoming night, they recommended that the curfew be extended because it was so successful on Saturday.

"I will ask you, no I will beg you, please stay home," Harrington said. "Please stay with your businesses, please stay with your families, please do not go out and about."

Officials said they have been finding flammables in places where fires took place and inside some vehicles they have stopped, including today.

RELATED: Semi truck driver who barreled through I-35W George Floyd protest arrested, no injuries reported

The governor announced that he's decided Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison should lead the investigation into the death of George Floyd.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office had announced earlier Sunday that Ellison has accepted an invitation from Mike Freeman to "assist in the cases arising out of the death of George Floyd."

"This decision is one that I feel takes us in that direction and the step to start getting the justice for George Floyd," Walz said. "When I spoke to the Floyd family, they were very clear, they wanted the system to work for them, they wanted to believe that there was trust."

With Ellison leading the case, Walz said, "That will happen."

Ellison said his team will not leave any resources on the sideline as they pursue justice. 

He said they are not ready to announce any additional charges beyond the ones already filed against former officer Derek Chauvin.

He also said he wanted to "deliver a dose of reality" that prosecuting police officers is very difficult.

"We need to make sure that we are absolutely prepared and we intend to be absolutely prepared," Ellison said. "We are pursuing justice, we are pursuing truth, we are doing it vigorously ... I want to ask you for your trust."

KARE 11 reporter Karla Hult asked Ellison to address a picture of him that has been circulating online, which shows him holding a book titled 'Antifa, the Anti-Fascist Group.' Ellison responded saying: “It’s nothing. It means nothing.”

6:34 p.m.

No one was injured when a semi truck driver drove through a crowd of on-foot protesters on Interstate 35W Sunday evening.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the truck driver was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He has been arrested.

"Very disturbing actions by a truck driver ... inciting a crowd of peaceful demonstrators," DPS posted on Twitter. "It doesn't appear any protesters were hit by the truck."

A witness said he saw a truck "barreling down, blaring its horn" without appearing to have any intention of stopping, as protesters gathered peacefully on Interstate 35W.

"You heard a horn," he told KARE 11's Boyd Huppert. "It was barreling into that crowd and they were separating, just parting, thankfully."

6:14 p.m.

Police are firing tear gas trying to remove crowds of protesters off the ramp onto Interstate 35 from University. 

It's unclear what prompted the move, but it comes shortly after a semi truck drove into a crowd of peaceful protesters on I-35W just before 6 p.m.

While peaceful demonstrations drew thousands in in the Twin Cities beginning at noon on Sunday, the incidents are the first signs of escalation as the day moves toward night.

A witness tells KARE 11 reporter Boyd Huppert that the semi was traveling northbound on I-35, driving on the left shoulder, and had been honking his horn since he drove under the Washington Avenue Bridge.

"We could hear his horn," she said. "He was holding the horn down the entire time."

She said the truck ended up "plowing" into the crowd.

"It didn't appear that he was slowing down," she said. "He did end up driving right into the group of protesters."

Gov. Tim Walz will hold a news conference about the law enforcement response to demonstrations tonight at 7 p.m.

5:50 p.m.

MnDOT traffic camera footage showed a semi truck driving into a crowd of peaceful protesters on I-35W.

The truck drove into the crowd and no one appeared to be injured, but protesters appeared to surround the truck, with some people attempting to holding people back while some opened the driver's side door of the truck.

Police have arrived at the scene. KARE 11 will report more details as they become available.

"I saw people jump up onto the truck and stop it," said one witness.

The bystander said that the truck appeared to be going 35 or 40 miles per hour when it drove onto the scene, but KARE 11 has not confirmed that.

The incident took the situation on Interstate 35W Sunday from peaceful to dangerous in a matter of seconds. There are no answers yet on how the truck got onto the freeway, which was supposed to be closed after 5 p.m.

5:31 p.m.

Thousands of protesters wearing all black and shouting "Black lives matter" and "Justice for George" have stopped traffic on Interstate 35W at 4th Street, stopping to kneel and sit for a moment of silence.

Shortly afterward they made it to the 35W bridge.

Another group of about 1,500 people that started at the Minnesota State Capitol at noon is now going east on University Avenue, after marching on Interstate 94.

They took a moment just before 5:30 p.m. to kneel in silence by a sign that said "Justice long delayed is justice denied."

Credit: SKY 11
About 1,500 protesters kneel on University Avenue by a sign that says "Justice long delayed is justice denied."

Reporter Boyd Huppert watched a protester walk up to the Minnesota National Guard troops stationed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and offer the soldiers water.

"I'm here for people," Ethan Freele told Huppert.

5:18 p.m.

A large group of protesters took a knee on the Hennepin Avenue Bridge Sunday afternoon chanting "I can't breathe," the words George Floyd could be heard speaking on video as he died in Minneapolis police custody.

That group later moved on from the bridge and is now headed toward the University of Minnesota and then onto the 35W Bridge, where they plan to hold another moment of silence in honor of George Floyd.

That march began at U.S. Bank Stadium at 4 p.m.

Another protest that began at the Minnesota State Capitol at noon later made its way onto Interstate 94 in St. Paul. That rally is now headed east on University Avenue.

5 p.m.

MnDOT says road closures around the metro will now begin earlier, at 5 p.m. Sunday, and be more extensive than previously planned.

The closures of major highways in the Twin Cities area are one part of the state's plan to control demonstrations over George Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody, after several nights of riots and violence.

Credit: KARE

Meanwhile, a large group of protesters who started marching from U.S. Bank Stadium paused on the Hennepin Avenue Bridge for a moment of silence Sunday afternoon at about 4:45 p.m.

4:14 p.m.

The Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) Security Operations Center says it is experiencing "distributed denial-of-service" cyber attacks aimed at overloading state systems and taking them offline.

MNIT issued a statement saying they have defended against those attacks successfully so far.

“Keeping our communications systems secure during times of crisis is critical to protecting the Minnesotans that we serve, and we work to meet the challenging and evolving threat to those systems every day," the statement reads. "At this time, these attacks have not successfully disrupted the state services that Minnesotans depend upon, and MNIT is working in close coordination with partners at the Department of Public Safety and with the federal government to share intelligence and stay proactive on cyber threats."

4 p.m.

A rally to honor George Floyd, who was killed in police custody Monday night, begins at 4 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

After several nights of unrest including violence, looting and fires in the Twin Cities, Saturday was relatively calmer with a larger police and military presence on the streets.

KARE 11 is live with coverage of ongoing protests Sunday.

Former officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death, but crowds of protesters are calling for the arrest of the other three officers involved.

The 10K March for No Bail, demanding no bail for Chauvin, is beginning at U.S. Bank Stadium and expected to move to the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, to University Avenue, and to the Interstate 35W Bridge.

KARE 11 reporter Gordon Severson said he's seen people of all races and ages at that protest, comparing the group of "thousands upon thousands" to the crowd at a Vikings game.

Credit: KARE 11
KARE 11 reporter Gordon Severson said the "No Bail" march from U.S. Bank Stadium is one of the largest protests he's covered in his career, with "thousands upon thousands" of people.

Another protest is expected to meet up with that one at the Hennepin County Government Center at 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, a protest of thousands of people that started at noon at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul has made its way onto Interstate 94.

People also continue to gather at the site of Floyd's death, outside Cup Foods at 38th and Chicago, remembering Floyd and calling for justice.

Credit: SKY 11
Protesters march on Interstate 94 near the St. Paul capitol, calling for justice in the death of George Floyd.

2:45 p.m.

MnDOT has released more details about Sunday night's highway closures for the Twin Cities.
Officials say the closures will take effect again Sunday beginning at 8 p.m.

  • I-35W north/south btwn Hwy 280 & Hwy 62
  • I-94 east/west btwn I-694 & Hwy 280
  • I-394 east btwn Hwy 100 & I-94
  • Hwy 55 north/south btwn Hwy 62 & I-94  
Credit: KARE

2:30 p.m.

Metro Transit service is suspended through Monday.

Officials say all bus, light rail and Northstar service will remain suspended through the end of Monday, June 1.

"Service has been suspended out of concern for the safety of our customers and employees, and will resume when it has been determined that it is safe to do so. While service is suspended, Metro Transit will be inspecting facilities and equipment and making necessary repairs," according to a news release. 

2 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is reporting local law enforcement made over 155 arrests Saturday and during the overnight period into Sunday.

The department expects that number to increase as more jails book suspects.

In a tweet, the DPS said arrests were for curfew and weapons violations, narcotics, and rioting.

1 p.m.

People are paying their respects to the memory of George Floyd.
Memorials, demonstrations and rallies are being held in the Twin Cities.
A large gathering was at the State Capitol lawn.

A service with music and dancing was held at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis.

A march and rally is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday. It will begin at U.S. Bank Stadium and end at the State Capitol.

9:30 a.m.

Gov. Walz is extending the order for 8 p.m. curfew for Minneapolis and St. Paul for Sunday night. He is also extending the closures of major highways.

Minneapolis was calmer overnight after the Minnesota National Guard deployed 4,100 soldiers, in addition to an increased police presence.

"Thanks to all who participated in restoring order to our streets. It gets us back to where we were before, but that is not good enough," said Gov. Walz.

The governor said that Minnesotans need to address the conditions that led to the death of George Floyd and the murder charge against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

"We had no significant fires last night," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

"We should focus on that George Floyd should be alive today," said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.

DPS Commissioner John Harrington said preliminary data shows 55 arrests were made during last night's unrest. But as many as another 40 to 50 arrests were made overnight.

Harrington said most arrests last night involved weapons violations. Police officers say they saw cars without license plates on them, lights out, windows blacked out. 

When officers went back to those cars they saw several cars had been stolen and were full of rocks and other weapons.

1:33 a.m.

In an early morning news conference Sunday, Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said the situation in the Twin Cities is mostly stable.

"Tonight we feel it went far better," Schnell said, comparing Saturday night to the chaos of Friday, as protests over the death of George Floyd descended into riots.

"One, there was clarity ... and there was an overwhelming number of resources that were brought to bear, which was critical," he said.

Schnell said there was also "incredible compliance" with the 8 p.m. curfew.

"There was a tremendous level of community support for the curfew, as hard as that is to do in an open and civil society," he said.

Schnell said law enforcement is still pursuing small groups that tend to go into residential areas and then come back onto the "main thoroughfare."

"There have not been large issues in terms of property damage," he said. "But we also do not want to be overly confident."

Schnell said that while they feel they have the resources they need, they know there are still people "out and about whose intent is not very community focused."

Law enforcement crews will remain out Sunday morning, Schnell said.

Authorities are still working on finalizing arrest numbers, but Schnell said they will get those out as soon as they can. He said as of 10 p.m. there were dozens, and he doesn't know how many more people have been arrested since then.

Saturday night's demonstrations were significantly less violent than Friday's, as state leaders put forth a larger show of strength with thousands of national guard soldiers and additional police officers and state troopers.

Schnell said that Gov. Tim Walz will have to decide whether to maintain the curfew past Saturday night, or to continue with the full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard.

"We want to make sure that the people of Minneapolis and across Minnesota feel safe and comfortable," he said. "And that's really what this mission was about from the beginning, to restore order."

"Do I think we made progress tonight? Yes," he said. "Do I think this is a long-term proposition in terms of the need for this level of personnel? No. But ultimately the goal is to restore the situation to where regular normal public safety ... can meet the needs of the Twin Cities."

RELATED: Violent protests over police killings rage on in dozens of US cities

RELATED: Highways shut down in preparation for possible riots

Schnell said there are groups of five to 10 or 20 that will separate, then reconnect.

"They may arrest one or two and then ultimately they split up again," he said. "And we think that that's going to be some of the tactics throughout the night."

He said they also believe there's still a possibility that some of the more professional entities out on the streets may want to engage more aggressively.

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"We did see groups that did try and leave Minneapolis and head into St. Paul," Schnell said, and it was the objective of St. Paul police and the joint command to prevent that.

"A line was established, there was attempts to breach that line, that line was held in a positive way," he said. Schnell did not know if there were arrests in that incident.

Schnell said there were "many thousands" of law enforcement officers and national guard members present Saturday night. There were thousands Friday, too, but we had a "much larger crowd," Schnell said.

Compared to 700 national guard soldiers on Friday, 4,100 came out to assist local law enforcement on Saturday.

"We had incredible levels of compliance I would say," Schnell said.

Aside from a vehicle fire on I-35 and a few "Molotov cocktail" type incidents, Schnell said they did not see any large-scale fires on Saturday.

Schnell said the Twin Cities are not "out of the woods" yet but he believes they have the resources to deal with anything else that comes up Sunday.

12:26 a.m.

Minneapolis police say an individual shot at officers while they were patrolling near the 1400 block of Lake Street around 11 p.m.

According to a tweet from the department, officers encountered three suspects and one of the suspects shot at the officers.

The three suspects were taken into custody and no officers returned fire. One gun was recovered and one suspect was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

12:03 a.m.

Minneapolis police say officers are responding to a report of people trying to start a fire at a building on the 1600 block of 6th Street South in the city's Cedar Riverside neighborhood.

It's one of relatively few reported arson attempts overnight Saturday into Sunday.

LAST BLOG: Twin Cities quieter Saturday as thousands of soldiers called in to control protests