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St. Paul mayor says certain protesters "intent on sparking violence"

St. Paul mayor: Some protesters "intent on sparking violence"
St. Paul mayor: Some protesters "intent on sp... 05:01

Washington — As nationwide protests continued for the fifth day following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Mayor Melvin Carter of neighboring St. Paul said certain demonstrators, many of whom are unfamiliar to local activists, are "very intent on sparking violence."

"Our concern is it seems very clear that while some of our folks out there in the streets just crying out to be heard — that they believe that George Floyd should still be alive, that all four of those officers should be held accountable for their actions, and that we have deep soul-searching work to do as a nation to stop this pattern from happening over and over and over again — there also seems to be people in those crowds who are very intent on sparking violence, on breaking windows, on starting fires and on trying to convince those folks to engage in unlawful behavior," Carter said on "Face the Nation."

Carter said advocates in the Twin Cities, including those who are active in the Black Lives Matter movement, don't recognize those in the crowds who are engaging in violence.

"They're seeing people jump out of those crowds to break a window and then go run back in behind those crowds. It's very concerning for me," he said, adding that law enforcement partners are working to determine who the agitators are and what their agenda is.

Carter said protesters who have incited violence and destroyed businesses are "drowning out the voices that we need to be hearing" and overshadowing the need to end police brutality.

"We need to be having a conversation right now about how we stop this from happening. We need to be having a conversation right now about how traumatic it is to our community to see George Floyd killed in the gruesome way that he was, how critical it is that we change the culture of policing for once and for all in our country," he said. "Those who are expressing that anger in a disgusting and destructive way are taking the focus away from what it should be while destroying our community institutions. It must stop."

On Saturday, Carter and other state officials said the majority of those arrested on Friday were from outside Minnesota, but later corrected those figures, saying they were inaccurate and based on flawed arrest data.

Wesley Lowery, a correspondent for CBS News' "60 in 6" on the streaming platform Quibi, has covered protests and police brutality for years, and said mass demonstrations always attract "a mixture of people in the streets."

"The reality is it's always a confluence of people, a confluence of anger and frustration, and it can be too easy for us to think it's just some outside agitator. When you read the after-action reports and the contemporaneous coverage of basically every riot that's ever happened in the last hundred years, the local elected officials always say it's the outside agitators, it's not the people from here," Lowery said on "Face the Nation." "We've seen in the last 48 hours the officials in Minnesota claim that, and the independent reporting prove that the vast majority of people arrested were local."

60 Minutes' Wesley Lowery on racial tensions ... 08:19

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday morning also raised the idea of outside forces instigating violence. 

"It is a small number of people. It is well organized even though many of the people associate with the anarchist movement and we often think of that as not an example of organization and hierarchy," de Blasio said. "In this case, we've got a lot of people who are organized. They plan together online. They've got very explicit rules. There is an explicit agenda of violence."

Floyd, 46, died last week after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes as he pleaded that he couldn't breath. Floyd's death sparked protests nationwide that in some places have turned violent. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder Friday, and the other officers involved were fired.

Clashes between law enforcement and protesters in dozens of cities across the country erupted again Saturday, including in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Fifteen states have deployed the National Guard and more than two dozen mayors issued curfews.

On Saturday, Attorney General William Barr blamed violent episodes that have occurred on "far-left extremist groups," while President Trump said the incidents were sparked by "Antifa and the Radical left."

Mr. Trump warned in a tweet Saturday that "liberal governors and mayors must get much tougher" or the federal government would step in.

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