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White supremacists attending George Floyd protests, Minnesota officials believe

Suggestion that outside ‘agitators’ were behind disturbances comes as Minneapolis curfew extended 

Gino Spocchia
Monday 01 June 2020 09:13 BST
Fuel truck ploughs into crowds of protesters on Minneapolis highway

Officials in Minnesota believe that white supremacist “agitators” were inciting chaos at protests against police brutality and the killing of George Floyd.

The Minnesota state corrections department said on Sunday that white supremacists were thought to be attending demonstrations in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and making chaos.

“They’re agitators,” said Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell on those who have caused destruction during demonstrations.

Mr Schnell added that authorities were moving to break up demonstrations so that outside “agitators” could not create chaos.

Minnesota governor Tim Walz announced on Sunday that the state’s curfew would be extended into Monday morning to allow law enforcement to continue targeting “those who meant to do harm”.

Mr Walz added on Twitter that authorities had made several arrests whilst seizing weapons, narcotics, long guns, handguns, magazines and knives.

“We have reason to believe that bad actors continue to infiltrate the rightful protests of George Floyd’s murder, which is why we are extending the curfew by one day,” announced the governor overnight.

Minnesota corrections department commissioner John Harrington also announced later on Sunday that authorities had located several caches of flammable materials.

Mr Harringon added: “The fact that we’ve seen so many of them in so many places now makes us believe that this is part of that pattern that shows that this in fact an organised activity and not some random act of rage”.

It comes amid accusations that outside groups are behind the destruction witnessed in cities across the US, and in Minneapolis where Mr Floyd was killed in police custody last week.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who represents the district where he was killed, pleaded with Minneapolis protesters on Saturday night to stay indoors so that “agitators” could be caught.

“Right now, our grief and pain is being exploited. People primarily from outside our city are destroying black and minority-owned businesses in our city,” said Ms Omar. “I urge people to stay home tonight so we can better target and isolate these agitators.”

Meanwhile, videos continue to be shared online amid concerns that white “agitators” were escalating demonstrations across the US.

Almost 6 million people have viewed one video that shows black protestors confronting a white “professional agitator” in Seattle, Washington.

“Watch this video,” said national security expert Naveed Jamil on Twitter. “It has protestors turning over an agitator, then it has these professional white agitators clad in paintball body armour trying to start a fight with the police. These are who are behind the clashes.”

US president Donald Trump has blamed left-wing anti-fascist movements, such as Antifa, for the disturbances seen at demonstrations.

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