After George Floyd died in police custody, civil unrest has spread throughout the City of Minneapolis and into neighboring jurisdictions. IAFF members are responding to emergencies as protesters march through the streets, looting and setting fires.
Members have been delayed in responding to the fires in the areas where the protests have become the most violent as it unsafe to do so.
General President Harold Schaitberger says, “I applaud our members’ dedication to professionalism and duty as they respond to this very dangerous situation.”
“Our members in Minnesota have responded to incidents of unrest before, but nothing of this magnitude,” says 5th District Vice President Thomas Thornberg. “They must continue be vigilant about their safety until this unrest is over.”
As protesters have been throwing bottles and other items at fire apparatus, Minneapolis Local 82 members have not been able to quickly and safely respond to many of the buildings set on fire.
“I have responded to natural disasters, a bridge collapse and other large-scale emergencies, but there was never a time where my safety and the safety of other Local 82 members are jeopardized like it is now,” says Local 82 President Mark Lakosky. “I am hopeful that now that the National Guard is here to assist law enforcement, we will be able to be more proactive in our response.”
The unrest is now moving beyond the Minneapolis city limits and into surrounding including Saint Paul where at least 40 additional fire fighters were called in on May 28 to respond.
“Working throughout the night of May 28, our members responded to over 50 fires under police protection. Additionally, more than 150 properties were damaged the same night of unrest in our city. I have never seen anything like this,” says Local 21 President Michael Smith.
Derek Chauvin, the police officer caught on video pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck, has been fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other police officers have also been fired, but charges are pending.