Protesters demonstrate for a second night in St. Cloud, 40 arrested

Updated: 2:08 p.m.

Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd early Tuesday during a second consecutive night of unrest in St. Cloud.

About 100 people demonstrated with some protesters chanting some of George Floyd's last words "I can't breathe" before he died on a Minneapolis street.

A dumpster was set on fire and pushed into the middle of a street, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Officers used their patrol cars to cordon off Southtown Liquors store, which appeared to have been broken into with glass and bottles strewn about.

According to a news release from the St. Cloud Police Department, officers responded to a report of multiple gunshots near Ninth Avenue and University Drive South at about 10:20 p.m. Monday.

When officers arrived, they found several people running from the area, but no one who'd been shot. While they were investigating, about 200 people gathered in the area.

Police said the protesters took over the road and blocked traffic. Some people threw rocks and officers and passing vehicles. Around 11 p.m., police said several people began looting a liquor store on the corner.

Police used chemical deterrents to disperse the crowd. The chaotic scene continued for several hours, and St. Cloud police called on several area law enforcement agencies for help.

Authorities arrested 37 adults and two juveniles pending possible charges of unlawful assembly. One adult was arrested on suspicion of burglary of the liquor store.

Mayor Dave Kleis said there was some minor damage to businesses. He also said St. Cloud authorities had to call in help from neighboring jurisdictions to help bring the situation under control shortly before dawn.

"There are a lot of things on social media in both nights that just are very inaccurate and wrong and very dangerous," Kleis said. "It escalates through what people see on social media. At two o'clock in the morning, it can be a very dangerous situation for everyone involved."

A similar crowd had gathered early Monday after a rumor spread on social media that police had shot two black men. In fact, a police officer was shot in the hand while struggling to make an arrest. No officers returned fire while struggling with the man, officials said.

Th protests come about three weeks after Floyd's death in Minneapolis, some 65 miles southeast of St. Cloud.

The killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, has sparked worldwide protests over police brutality and racism. He died after Derek Chauvin, a white officer, used his knee to pin down Floyd's neck for several minutes as Floyd pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving.

Before you go...

MPR News is dedicated to bringing you clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives when we need it most. We rely on your help to do this. Your donation has the power to keep MPR News strong and accessible to all during this crisis and beyond.