For the first time, the city of Minneapolis has addressed the week-long protest demanding justice for Jamar Clark that ended in chaos late last week when protesters charged the steps of the Minnesota governor’s mansion.
Mayor Jacob Frey — who hasn’t publicly addressed the protest specifically — addressed the incident in his weekly news conference Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve learned there was one instance of criminal behavior that took place that was incredibly disturbing and unacceptable,” he said.
Frey pointed to witness accounts that led police to the scene. As CNN has previously reported, at least 12 people were arrested at the end of last week’s unrest.
CNN has reached out to the Minneapolis police to confirm what Frey described as the “one instance of criminal behavior.”
The videos show at least five suspects running from police, some carrying what appear to be assault rifles and handguns. The police say the suspects fired upon them as they approached.
But the local Star Tribune reports that witnesses to the incident “categorically denied” police accounts of the incident. Witnesses reported the shots were fired by other suspects, possibly gang members.
The newspaper described one witness as sounding “nervous and fearful” while testifying at the hearing.
At least one person died during the weeklong protests, which started Thursday after Clark, a 24-year-old black man, was shot by police. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has launched an investigation into the case.
By Friday, the protests had escalated into a weeklong showdown. The protests got so tense that Police Chief Janee Harteau called in the National Guard.
Demonstrators had planned to march to the Governor’s Mansion on Sunday night, but the march was canceled. When CNN later traveled to the scene with officers to film, protesters blocked a street and began marching.
Following a standoff outside the governor’s mansion Saturday, several protesters confronted police and police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. The Department of Public Safety said in a statement that “at least 24 officers were struck with projectiles by demonstrators.”
Both sides of the street were then cleared with the help of the National Guard, as protesters marched on a street in front of the governor’s mansion.
By Sunday, CNN couldn’t get through to the governor’s mansion, as had been planned, and journalists weren’t allowed inside the building. After the standoff outside, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said protesters had retreated into City Hall. The state confirmed Sunday evening that an unarmed man had died while police were in custody.
After the latest confrontation outside the mansion Sunday, a clergy member was arrested. According to police, the group tried to break into the State Capitol building, and officers were confronted.