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


Protests in Minneapolis over the shooting of an armed 32-year-old man by law enforcement descended into violence and looting again Friday night and early into Saturday morning.

People had gathered at rallies and vigils around the city throughout the day, but by nightfall, the protests turned into chaos, with rioters blocking traffic in the city’s Uptown area and setting dumpsters on fire as they clashed with police, reported the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

It was the second night of violence and chaos after the U.S. Marshals Service task force fatally shot 32-year-old Winston Boogie Smith Jr., a black man, on Thursday when trying to execute an arrest warrant, authorities said. Investigators said Smith fired a gun from inside his vehicle toward law enforcement before law enforcement shot him.

He had been wanted on a warrant and already had an extensive criminal record – with a previous felony conviction of aggravated robbery. 

Still, his shooting came in a city already inflamed by recent police-involved shootings: George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020 and 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed by police earlier this year.

The fatal shooting, coupled with the dismantling of George Floyd Square during the week, sparked earlier bouts of civil unrest, vandalism and looting of businesses overnight Thursday, leading to multiple arrests then. On Friday, no arrests were reported by the Star-Tribune by 11 pm local time – though videos and photos of dramatic confrontations with police can be seen.   

The US Marshals task force had moved in on Smith who was wanted for being a felon in possession of a firearm after he posted a picture of what appeared to be himself sitting in a car with a gun and a box of bullets – a probation violation. 

Smith, who was in a parked SUV, ‘produced a handgun resulting in task force members firing upon the subject,’ Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department said. Officers attempted to revive the suspect but he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

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

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

Police stand guard after protesters set fire to dumpsters on the street at the vigil for Smith in the early hours of Saturday

Police stand guard after protesters set fire to dumpsters on the street at the vigil for Smith in the early hours of Saturday 

Firefighters were also called to the scene after some protesters began setting bins on fire and damaging property in the area

Firefighters were also called to the scene after some protesters began setting bins on fire and damaging property in the area

At a vigil for Smith overnight Thursday, buildings were vandalized 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.     

On Friday, protests kicked off into riot-like conditions again. 

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

Winston Boogie Smith, pictured in a mugshot from December 2019, when he was arrested on warrant charging him with possession of firearms or ammunition as a felon, was shot dead by police Thursday

Winston Boogie Smith, pictured in a mugshot from December 2019, when he was arrested on warrant charging him with possession of firearms or ammunition as a felon, was shot dead by police Thursday

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.  

Friends and family on Friday named the deceased suspect as 32-year-old Smith, a father-of-two from Minneapolis. His identity has not been officially confirmed by the authorities.  

Marshals had approached him outside a parking garage at around 2pm on Thursday in the Uptown neighborhood, just three miles away from George Floyd Square. 

According to court records, Smith had racked up at least 20 arrests since 2007 on charges ranging from minor traffic violations to drug and marijuana possession. 

In 2017, he was convicted of felony aggravated robbery, was handed a three-year stayed sentence and was put on probation.

Under the conditions of his probation, Smith was required to stay in regular contact with his probation officer, submit to random drug testing, find a job and possess no firearms. 

After posting an image of a gun and bullets on Instagram, a probation violation hearing was called on May 5. WCCO reported that when Smith failed to show up at the hearing, a warrant was issued for his arrest.   

Meanwhile, the incident comes as gun violence has been increasing in the city, and the victims of the violence are even young children.

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

The warrant for Smith's arrest was issued less than two weeks after he posted this photo on his public Instagram page

The warrant for Smith’s arrest was issued less than two weeks after he posted this photo on his public Instagram page

Winston Boogie Smith, 32, was shot and killed by members of a US Marshals task force in Minneapolis on Thursday

Smith, who was wanted for a probation violation, allegedly pulled a gun on officers

Winston Boogie Smith, 32, was shot and killed by members of a US Marshals task force in Minneapolis on Thursday. Smith, who was wanted for a probation violation, allegedly pulled a gun on officers 

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. 

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. 

Late Friday into early Saturday morning, police armed with batons were guarding the streets and protecting stores from looting as protests descended into violence

Late Friday into early Saturday morning, police armed with batons were guarding the streets and protecting stores from looting as protests descended into violence

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

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

Police stood guard of bins which had been set on fire by protestors amid damage in the city that had been kicked off after vigils around town for Smith

Police stood guard of bins which had been set on fire by protestors amid damage in the city that had been kicked off after vigils around town for Smith 

On Thursday, nine people were arrested on charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property; on Friday, no arrests had been reported by local media by 11 pm local time

On Thursday, nine people were arrested on charges including suspicion of riot, assault, arson and damage to property; on Friday, no arrests had been reported by local media by 11 pm local time

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 Smith was in that he had fired his gun, with empty cartridges found inside the car. 

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

Tommy McBrayer (R) speaks during a vigil for Winston Boogie Smith on June 4, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tommy McBrayer (R) speaks during a vigil for Winston Boogie Smith on June 4, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

Flowers were arranged and graffiti with Smith's name was put up at a vigil held in his memory on Friday and Saturday

Flowers were arranged and graffiti with Smith’s name was put up at a vigil held in his memory on Friday and Saturday 

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 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.’  

‘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.’     

A protester is arrested by police after a vigil was held for Winston Boogie Smith Jr. early in Minneapolis on Saturday

A protester is arrested by police after a vigil was held for Winston Boogie Smith Jr. early in Minneapolis on Saturday

A police car pulls up to the scene of the vigil where authorities and protestors clashed over Smith's death

A police car pulls up to the scene of the vigil where authorities and protestors clashed over Smith’s death 

Protestors at the vigil were said to be demanding justice for the 32-year-old father of three who died on Thursday

Protestors at the vigil were said to be demanding justice for the 32-year-old father of three who died on Thursday 

It is the second night of protests in response to Smith's death in Minneapolis' Uptown area earlier this week

It is the second night of protests in response to Smith’s death in Minneapolis’ Uptown area earlier this week

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?’ 

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.    

It was not clear how many law enforcement officers fired their weapons during the incident on Thursday.

A spokeswoman with the US Marshals said the US Marshals leads the task force that attempted the arrest, which is comprised of several agencies. 

Other agencies with personnel on the scene at the time of the shooting include sheriff’s offices from Hennepin, Anoka and Ramsey counties, the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the Department of Homeland Security. Minneapolis police played no role in the incident.

Officers who were involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave. 

The gunfire erupted on the fifth floor of a parking ramp at West Lake Street and South Fremont Avenue.  

A bartender from a nearby business told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that several of his patrons hear eight to 12 shots, and then saw officers grab the female passenger from the suspect’s vehicle.

A neighbor who lives across from the parking ramp told the paper she heard more than a dozen shots, followed by a pause, and then even more shots. 

Smith was a local hip hop artist who performed under the stage name ‘Wince Me Boi’ and also appeared in comedy videos.

In January 2020, he released a single dedicated to his children titled Goodbye.

Friends and relatives took to Facebook and Twitter to pay tribute to Smith as news of his killing spread.    



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