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Harteau: Nicollet Mall Disturbance Was An Isolated Event

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis police are continuing to investigate fights that broke out Tuesday night on Nicollet Mall.

They want to know why at least 300 teens came to downtown Minneapolis to start fights and block streets.

The chaotic scene began to escalate just as the St. Patrick's Day parade was ending. Police made half a dozen arrests as they worked to restore order.

Police believe word of the gathering spread on social media. The kids used free buses that were running for St. Patrick's Day to get downtown, and when they arrived there was chaos.

"We are looking at absolutely everything we can," said Chief Janee Harteau of Minneapolis police. "How were these kids able to communicate, to converge unto downtown so quickly and with so many? Was it social media? Was it texting? What was their methodology?"

Police said the unrest lasted for several hours.

"It just kept growing," said inspector Mike Kjos. "I think there was more and more communication going on on social media, that was drawing more kids down here."

Scenes from the chaotic brawl have prompted concern among community leaders.

"We need to get in touch with these kids, we need to just let them know that what they are doing makes no sense at all," said VJ Smith with the group Mad Dads.

Police eventually guided groups of young people to extra buses brought in by Metro Transit.

In a statement on her Facebook page, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the public was never in any danger and praised the work of Minneapolis police, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department and Metro-Transit police.

Harteau labeled the unrest as an isolated event, a view echoed by downtown leaders.

Steve Cramer, the president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said the city is safe and as vital as it has ever been.

There were only a handful of minor injuries in the incident.

There was also a shooting with minor injuries, but it's not clear if that was related. The shooting happened a couple of blocks away.

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