Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said the Office of Police Conduct Review is launching an investigation after protesters, including a young boy, were Maced by a police officer downtown Wednesday night.
Marchers involved in the protest organized by the Black Liberation Project gathered downtown to show solidarity with people in Madison who have been demonstrating following the shooting death of Tony Robinson, a biracial youth, by a white police officer. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has announced the officer won’t be charged in Robinson’s death.
A video showing an officer spraying a chemical irritant at protesters downtown — one of them a 10 year old — has gone viral.
Harteau issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:
“I know you have a lot of questions. I understand and I have a lot of questions as well.
This morning I spoke with the mother of a 10 year old boy who was affected by chemical irritants Downtown last night. I wanted to know how her son was doing. We are both mothers and we had a good conversation.
It is critical for everyone involved that we complete a thorough investigation so I need the public’s help.
We need to speak with the people who marched. We need to know what their experience looked like. We also need to hear from motorists who were fearful and from people who had property damaged. We need to see any and all video, from all angles in this case.
We MUST have the full set of facts.
An investigation into all that happened has already been opened within the Office of Police Conduct Review, a board made up of both officers and civilians. We will be providing you with information on how you can contact them; again, we need to hear from anyone who has information.
We also need to hear from those who are planning upcoming marches. I’m proud to say that the Minneapolis Police Department has a strong history of supporting our residents’ first amendment rights. We’ve had tremendous success working with march organizers to make sure that they, and the rest of the general public, remain safe. I am asking those who plan to demonstrate tonight and in the future to contact us so we can work together to continue our nationally-recognized track record of peaceful marches and demonstrations.”
The Black Liberation Project and Black Lives Matter held another demonstration Thursday night to denounce the actions of the officer. Taye Montgomery, the 10-year-old protester Maced Wednesday evening, led the march.