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Law enforcement slashed parked car tires in Minneapolis amid protests

Law enforcement officers in Minneapolis slashed the tires of parked cars during recent protests over the death of George Floyd, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety confirmed to The Hill on Monday. 

Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon acknowledged that state troopers cut tires during protests, as seen in videos and photos shared online. 

“While we can’t speak for other law enforcement agencies and their tactics, there were instances when State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires to keep vehicles from being used in attacks, and so we could tow the vehicles later for collection of evidence if necessary,” Gordon said in a statement. 

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He said this was done to stop vehicles “driving dangerously at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement,” as well as vehicles “that contained items used to cause harm during violent protests,” including 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. 

The official statement was first reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and came after Mother Jones reported on video and photo footage of officers puncturing tires in a K-Mart parking lot on May 30 and on a highway overpass on May 31. 

Anoka County Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Knotz also confirmed to the Star Tribune that deputies from the county followed orders to join the patrol and also cut tires on parked vehicles. 

He said the deputies got orders from the state-led Multiagency Command Center, which was coordinating law enforcement during the protests. 

Knotz told the newspaper towing the vehicles was not an option because “you could not get any tow trucks in there” due to the mass of people in the area. 

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Officials for the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff’s office and the National Guard told the Star Tribune their personnel were not the ones shown damaging tires in the videos being shared on social media. 

Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres, who was covering protests the night of May 30 and returned to the K-Mart lot around 1 a.m, saw his car among a few dozen with flattened tires, the Tribune reported. 

Television and web video producer Andrew Kimmel similarly tweeted that every tire on his rental car “as well as every tire of every car in this parking lot” had been slashed, along with video footage showing the flat tires on his car and the surrounding cars in the lot.