Despite prevention efforts, fireworks were used to target people, police in Minneapolis

Jul 6, 2023, 7:53 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Large groups of people used fireworks to target other people and police in Minneapolis over the Fourth of July holiday, even as police staffing doubled and the city took other measures to try and avoid such trouble.

The “brazen and reckless” discharge of fireworks didn’t result in any serious injuries, Police Chief Brian O’Hara said. But in one case, an officer chased down and arrested a 17-year-old suspect who allegedly fired a barrage of Roman candles at an occupied squad car, the Star Tribune reported. In another, commercial-grade fireworks were launched at a group of pedestrians.

Preventative steps were taken after 2022 Independence Day gatherings in and near downtown turned violent, with fireworks launched at buildings, cars and first responders. In addition to increased police staffing, the Stone Arch Bridge downtown was closed from 10 p.m. Tuesday through 6 a.m. Wednesday.

O’Hara said the measures helped.

“Last year, the MPD was overwhelmed and overrun,” he said, but this year, “we kept these groups on the run throughout the night.”

But Vic Thorstenson, president of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, called the effort an “utter failure.”

“People just hopped in cars and it was happening all over town,” he said, questioning the strategy of putting so many assets into protecting one corner of town and leaving others exposed.

O’Hara said closing the bridge helped disrupt traffic patterns in places where the city had problems last year.

“But obviously, we can’t cover every inch of the city at the same time,” he said.

Authorities said that at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, up to 50 teenagers and young adults shot fireworks from the Plymouth Avenue Bridge at Boom Island Park and targeted people and police officers. The 17-year-old boy who launched fireworks at a parked police squad car was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault.

At about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, police converged on “a large group of teens and young adults involved in a riot” in which fireworks were used to target people and officers.

At 2:38 a.m., police responded to a report of commercial-grade fireworks being launched from a vehicle “into a crowded area within feet of pedestrians” at a park. Four men were arrested.

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Despite prevention efforts, fireworks were used to target people, police in Minneapolis