AFTER THE RIOTS: THE SEARCH FOR ANSWERS : Angry Mob Dispersed in Minneapolis : Unrest: Police asked black leaders to help quiet a crowd of 500 people after false rumors spread that a white had shot a black youth.
Police, gangs and black community leaders worked together to quell a crowd angered by the shooting of a black teen-ager and by false rumors that his assailant was white or a police officer.
About 500 people gathered at the scene of the shooting Thursday night. They scuffled with police, beat a television news crew and shot a minister.
But the crowd was dispersed by neighborhood activists, ministers and gang leaders who took to the streets at the request of police.
“We’ve had a very good test and it worked,” Deputy Police Chief Dan Dobrotka said Friday at a news conference with black leaders.
“The message to our community is: We want all of this nonsense and violence to cease,” said Spike Moss, director of a youth service agency, who helped quiet the disturbance.
The 14-year-old boy was shot while riding his bicycle across the lawn of a north Minneapolis home. Witnesses said he was shot by the homeowner, who is black.
But soon after the shooting, rumors circulated at the scene that the assailant was white. Flyers appeared elsewhere in the city bearing the slogan, “No Peace, No Justice” and saying a police officer had shot the youth.
Relations between blacks and police had been bad in recent months because of several incidents of police use of force against black suspects, including a fatal shooting in February.
Moss gathered gang leaders, ministers and other neighborhood leaders at Dobrotka’s request to calm and break up the crowd.
“Our community is a powder keg, like all of our communities across this country since the Rodney King incident,” Moss said Friday. “The least sight of law enforcement . . . regardless of how it got started, we could lose control.”
Robert Coins, 66, was arrested and charged Friday with second-degree attempted murder, and first- and second-degree assault in the shooting, according to the Hennepin County attorney. The man’s house was firebombed about an hour after the shooting.
The unnamed boy was listed in serious condition with multiple gunshot wounds.
A television reporter who was beaten was in satisfactory condition with a broken nose and a concussion; her cameraman was treated for a concussion and released.
A minister who said he had gone to the area to help restore order was shot in a leg and a finger.