Chris Hayes: Why did police use tear gas against BLM protesters but not against re-opening protesters? (Update)

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 above was at the scene when it happened and said this:

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.

They 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:

Several businesses burned. 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.


Update: Vox published a story yesterday making the same argument, though at least they somewhat reported that Minneapolis protesters were engaged in vandalism which prompted the use of tear gas. Despite this, Vox quotes a protester blaming the ugly situation on the police:

Although the march was predominantly peaceful, at one point a group of protesters began to throw rocks and vandalize police cars, according to CBS Minnesota. When protesters approached the location of the precinct where the officers who hurt Floyd supposedly worked, some broke a window of the police station, while others tagged the outside of a car with graffiti. Around that time, police began firing tear gas at the crowd and using flash grenades, CNN reports

“It’s real ugly. The police have to understand that this is the climate they have created, this is the climate they created,” a protester told CBS Minnesota.

Here’s the clip Vox linked. It gives a good overview of how the situation escalated from a peaceful protest to a battle with police.

Update: From the Associated Press.

Fire crews responded to about 30 intentionally set blazes during the protests, including at least 16 structure fires, and multiple fire trucks were damaged by rocks and other projectiles, the fire department said. No one was hurt by the blazes.

This was a violent riot last night. Will Chris Hayes mention this or just excuse it?


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