Minnesota's Department of Safety and the Anoka County Sheriff's office acknowledged Monday that their troopers and deputies had knifed the tires of several parked, unoccupied vehicles in Minneapolis during protests against the police killing of George Floyd. Video from May 31 protests had captured unidentified law enforcement officers slashing tires, as Mother Jones documented.
"State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires ... in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement," Minnesota Department of Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He said it's "not a typical tactic," adding that troopers also targeted cars "that contained items used to cause harm during violent protests," like rocks and sticks. Several journalists were among those who returned from protests to find their tires slashed, including a Star Tribune reporter.
Anoka County Sheriff's Lt. Andy Knotz said deputies slashing car tires were doing so under orders from the state-led Multiagency Command Center coordinating law enforcement during the protests. Police couldn't tow the vehicles, Knotz said, because "you could not get any tow trucks in there." A tow truck driver told Andrew Kimmel, a Los Angeles TV and documentary maker whose rental car's tires were "strategically" knifed, that his towing company had gotten "call after call after call" from "everybody. Medics over there. News crews. Random people that were just here to protest and — tires slashed."
New Yorker writer Luke Mogelson told Mother Jones that when he returned to find his tires slashed, officers — some of whom had told him they would watch his car — "were laughing" and "had grins on their faces." Gordon said there would be an investigation of how various protest decisions were made.