Witnesses have told how a group of “white supremacists” opened fire on Black Lives Matter protesters - injuring five people and sparking a hunt by police the attackers.
Police said that five people suffered what were described as non life-threatening injuries late on Monday at a site in Minneapolis where activists have been protesting the fatal shooting of a young black man by officers. On Tuesday afternoon, it was reported that two of the three suspects had deen detained by police.
A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department, John Elder, said officers responded to the sound of gunshots at around 10.40pm on Monday and that a series of 911 calls reported that five people had been shot.
One of the protesters, Jie Wronski-Riley, told how they had been watching the men for some time and were suspicious about them. Such was the concern, that a group of the protesters decided to move the men from the site.
“They turned around and started shooting,” he told the Star Tribune. “At first I thought it was fire crackers or something because of all the sulphur or whatever.
“Then the person to my right went down, and then the person to my left went down.”
He added: "Bullets were flying".
Miski Noor, a media contact for Black Lives Matter, said “a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.”
When about a dozen protesters attempted to herd the group away from the area, Ms Noor said, they “opened fire on about six protesters,” hitting five of them. Three of the victims were taken to North Memorial Medical Centre by a private vehicle, and two others were transported by ambulance to the Hennepin County Medical Centre, according to police.
Campaigners have been protesting have been protesting over the November 15 shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark. Police claimed that the young man was shot after interfering with emergency crews who had gone to the aid of an assault victim.
Initial reports said the young man was handcuffed at the time he was shot. Police have since denied this, but the city’s mayor has asked the FBi to carry out an independent investigation into what happened.
Protesters and Mr Clark's family have been calling for investigators to release video of the shooting. Oluchi Omeoga, who has been participating in protests since last Monday, witnessed the shooting incident.
Protesters saw three people wearing masks who "weren't supposed to be there". Eventually, the three people left the crowd and began walking down the street, and a few protesters followed. When they reached a corner, the three people pulled out weapons and gunshots rang out, said the protester.
Mr Clark's family issued a statement through the office of Rep Keith Ellison that thanked protesters for “the incredible support” they have shown the family.
“But in light of tonight's shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step," the statement said.
Black Lives Matter had previously planned to announce on Tuesday morning its next plan following a weekend meeting with community members about strategy.
“I am obviously appalled that white supremacists would open fire on nonviolent, peaceful protesters,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP.
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