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Minneapolis protestors confront police as fires rage at second night of vigil for father-of-three

The death of a 32-year-old man shot by police in the US has sparked further protests in Minneapolis, the same city where George Floyd died in 2020.   

Winston Boogie Smith Jr, 32, was fatally shot by police, who say he fired a gun at deputies before he was killed. 

The shooting took place on Thursday in Minneapolis’ Uptown area. 

More recently, an officer fatally shot Daunte Wright in the nearby suburb of Brooklyn Centre in the city where Floyd died from asphyxiation on May 25, 2020, sparking a series of events and becoming a symbol for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Police stand guard after protesters set fire to dumpsters after a vigil was held for Winston Boogie Smith Jr.

At a vigil for Smith, buildings were vandalised and looted, and nine people were arrested on charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property. 

Pictures from the scene show fires in the streets and lines of armed officers standing guard in the city.     

It is the second night of protests in response to Smith’s death. 

The spot where Smith was fatally shot has been marked with graffiti reading ‘no trail for them’ and ‘Mpls still hates cops.’ 

Tensions were already high in the city after crews began to remove the concreate barricades that have sealed off the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago – the infamous location of Floyd’s death and a so-called ‘autonomous zone’ over the past year.

Gun violence has been increasing in the city, and the victims of the violence range in age.   

Trinity Ottoson-Smith, 9, died after being struck by a bullet when caught in the crossfire of a shoot out on May 15. 

Protesters were arrested by police after the vigil was held following Smith's death on Thursday

Protesters were arrested by police after the vigil was held following Smith’s death on Thursday

She was the second child to be shot in Minneapolis in just three weeks. LaDavionne Garrett Jr, 10, was shot while sitting in his parents car. He remains in hospital.    

Just two days after Trinity died, six-year-old Aniya Allen was killed after being shot while sat in the car with her mother on May 17.   

There have been 36 homicides in the city so far this year, which is more than double the number at this point last year and more than four times that seen in 2019.

Car-jackings are up 222 per cent and shootings have risen 153 per cent.  80 per cent of the victims are black. 

Gun theft from vehicles is up more than 100 per cent and the police department has seized 100 fewer guns this year than they had at the same point in 2020.

Winston Boogie Smith Jr (pictured), aged 32, was a father of three

Winston Boogie Smith Jr (pictured), aged 32, was a father of three 

 Minneapolis Police Department has lost more than 200 police officers, who have either permanently left the department or been signed off of service due to disability. 

Local activist Marcus X, said, ‘There’s shootings every single day and the summer hasn’t even started. All the police have PTSD, they’ve left, you don’t see police patrolling here. I know it and the gangs know it.

‘I could shoot someone right now and walk five blocks home before the police would even come.’

‘The police have left and it’s unleashed the gangs.’

According to authorities, members of the US Marshals Fugitive Task Force were trying to arrest Smith on Thursday on a warrant for allegedly being a felon in possession of a gun. 

The Marshals Service said in a statement that the father of three did not comply with law enforcement and ‘produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject.’

State investigators have said that there was evidence within the vehicle that Mr Smith was in that he had fired his gun, with empty cartridges found inside the car. 

Police stand guard after protesters set fire to dumpsters on the street

Police stand guard after protesters set fire to dumpsters on the street

He died at the scene and his passenger, a 27-year-old woman, was treated for injuries from glass debris.

According to court records, Smith had a felony conviction from a 2017 assault and robbery of his ex-partner. He pleaded guilty one count of aiding and abetting first-degree aggravated robbery for attacking his ex-girlfriend while another woman took her purse. 

He was sentenced to two years in prison, but the prison sentence was stayed for three years, provided he didn’t break the law.

He was charged in December 2019 with two counts of illegally possessing a firearm, and was also charged with fleeing police in Hennepin County, Minneapolis last year.       

Family and friends of Mr Smith, told the Associate Press that despite his mistakes, he did not deserve to be killed. 

His partner. Shelly Hopkins, said he ‘had the best heart out of anybody [she had] ever met in [her] life.’  

Nine people were arrested on charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property.

Nine people were arrested on charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property.

‘I wasn’t there,’ she said. ‘I don’t know exactly what happened. But I know him. And he didn’t deserve that.’

‘The two biggest things he cared about in this world was making people happy and being there for his kids.’     

She also alleged that police had ‘tried to make a case against him that didn’t exist’ and that he had been harassed by police for some time. 

She also said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his interactions with the police. 

Smith’s brother, Kidale Smith added: ‘This man had a family, and he’s just like anybody else. [People] always try to pin something on a man and try to identify him as a criminal, especially if he’s black.’

He also questioned the police account of what happened. 

‘You’ve got seven unmarked cars and you shoot a man in his car,’ he said. ‘You don’t even give him a chance to get out. You’re the U.S. Marshals. You’re supposed to be highly trained men, and you can’t handle a simple situation?’ 

Candles and flowers are arranged at a vigil for Winston Boogie Smith Jr. early on Saturday

Candles and flowers are arranged at a vigil for Winston Boogie Smith Jr. early on Saturday

Family and friends have now called for the release of all footage from security and surveillance cameras in the area.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said the US Marshals Service does not allow officers on the North Star Fugitive Task Force to use body cameras, and that there is no footage of the shooting. 

But, the Department of Justice allows state, local and tribal task officers to use body cameras. 

Authorities are said to be investigating, but no surveillance video has been identified yet.  


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