MINNEAPOLIS -- There's an increased police presence in Minneapolis Wednesday night afterof mischief and mortars.
Teenagers, packing high-powered fireworks, caused chaos for several hours overnight from Boom Island to Bde Maka Ska – including a squad car that was shelled by a Roman candle.
"An MPD officer manning that car exercised professionalism and extreme restraint under those circumstances," said Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara in a Wednesday press conference.
O'Hara says officers had to clear out about 200 people who had gathered to watch people set off fireworks at Bde Maka Ska.
One year ago, Boom Island was the scene ofwhere seven people were hurt. Chief O'Hara says they had ramped up patrols and to try to deter the disturbances that rocked downtown in 2022. And despite another wild holiday night in 2023, the chief says no bystanders were badly hurt.
Just after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, a WCCO News photojournalist captured at least a dozen officers from Minneapolis, the Park Police and the Minnesota State Patrol near Boom Island. The officers were using a bullhorn to tell several dozen people to clear the area and go home.
"Cops, people fighting and stuff. There were people throwing fireworks at cops and everything it was crazy," a witness said. "Me personally, I haven't done it."
A neighbor said he called the police, but the groups didn't really go home. Some argued with police, while others ignored orders altogether, continuing to launch fireworks, the witness said.
"It was scary, you know, they were covering their faces sometimes. It's just like, you feel you are in a different country. I'm not originally from here, but this is originally a little bit scary, even for me," said Gabby Mamouf. "Police were driving around this way here, shooting lights at them, but it doesn't seem like they were really scared."
The area was, for the most part, quiet again at about 2 a.m.
"This behavior is not only a danger to the targets of the unlawful behavior, but it's also a danger to those who choose to engage in this activity themselves," O'Hara said.
A video shot by independent journalist Rebecca Brannon shows a mortar being detonated, followed by a crowd surrounding a shell-shocked young man who needed medical care. Police say the teenager is expected to survive.
O'Hara announced Wednesday that 11 children and five adults, all teens, were arrested in connection to the Boom Island fireworks incident. Six were cited for disorderly conduct, while five others were booked into the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center.
"This year [the MPD] kept these groups on the run," O'Hara said, "The targeting of innocent people with fireworks is unlawful, dangerous, and wholly unacceptable."
O'Hara said 12 were shot over the holiday weekend, compared to 25 during the same time period in 2022.
for more features.