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Report: Minneapolis mishandled 2020 riots

(The Center Square) – An independent report details how the city of Minneapolis failed to quell unrest that devolved into the May 2020 riots. 

Rioting caused an estimated $500 million of damage to the Twin Cities.

The 86-page report by risk management firm Hillard Heintze analyzed over 2,400 documents, including strategic plans, dispatch, and recordings. They interviewed nearly 90 people to reach 25 key findings.

The report depicts the confusion and miscommunication that plagued Minneapolis officials during the riots that delayed deploying hundreds of National Guard soldiers to stop widespread looting and destruction that spread to the Third Police Precinct, which was burned to the ground.

The report is the first independent explanation of what went wrong more than 18 months ago when rioters damaged more than 1,500 businesses.

Other highlights include:

  • Despite having an emergency operations plan, the city of Minneapolis didn’t follow it.
  • The Minneapolis Police Department did not develop any formal crisis response plans, nor did it engage in any formal planning efforts to respond to the protests.
  • Bodycam footage showed that while SWAT understood protocol to deploy 40mm weapons, MPD repeatedly violated their protocol.

There were nearly 8,000 emergency calls in 24 hours on May 29, a volume that persisted throughout the week. The report found emergency officials were harrassed with threatening phone calls and dispatching high-emotion events.

The researchers cited repeated criticism of the delay in deploying the Minnesota National Guard (MNG). The MPD failed to follow the request policy to notify the MNG of a large-scale disturbance. Instead, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey verbally requested the MNG on the evening of May 27, followed by a written request that didn’t include detailed information required for approval.

“The public’s concern is well noted, as the policies provided the appropriate guidance,” the report notes. “Had the Mayor or the MPD consulted the [Office of Emergency Management (OEM], the OEM could have assisted with a more detailed request and potentially minimized the delay in deployment. Records indicate soldiers were notified of the deployment as early as [May 28] evening, but the MNG command could not initiate the deployment because they had not received sufficient actionable information.”

Readying and moving more than 7,000 troops took time. Much of the Twin Cities were already damaged when the full MNG force reached the city.

The MNG was fully activated after the fifth night of protests.

Executive leadership in the Minneapolis Fire Department (MFD) didn’t call for mutual aid or emergency staffing because they couldn’t protect MFD personnel, the report said, “[s]o they so they believed bringing in additional resources would have been fruitless.”

The report said “executive leadership” tried to recall firefighters the first night but couldn’t access their mass communication system “because of password issues.”

The report said that MFD leaders used a “task force response model that was unfamiliar to many of the firefighters,” resulting in uneven workloads.

“Many MFD personnel sat in firehouses across the city, in some cases observing a nearby fire that they could engage, while the personnel assigned to the task force actively worked fires for most of their 24-hour shift,” the report said.

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