December 5, 2023

A video shared on social media shows a vehicle driving through a large crowd at a Minneapolis, Minnesota, rally in support of Palestinians in Gaza.

Shortly after 3:20 p.m. on Sunday, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) responded to multiple reports of disturbances surrounding a demonstration near the city’s Loring Park neighborhood, MPD spokesperson Aaron Rose told Newsweek in an email.

“Various witnesses reported a vehicle driving through the crowd, and one caller reported the sound of a gunshot,” Rose said. “At this time, there have been no reports of injuries related to the demonstration, and no victims have come forward.”

The MPD is currently conducting follow-up investigations regarding this incident, Rose said, adding that no arrests have been made as of Sunday night. Rose said he was unable to confirm at the time of publication whether the road where the incident occurred was closed during the protest.

Roughly 5,000 people gathered in Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon to demand an end to “Israel’s bombing of Gaza,” according to a joint statement by the organizers of the rally, the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, the state chapter of the American Muslims for Palestine and the Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Minnesota.

Minneapolis Pro-Palestinian Rally
A “hostile driver” threatened people and drove through the crowd at a pro-Palestinian rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 22, according to a statement by the event’s organizers. In the photo, protesters hold a “die-in to show the seriousness of the ethnic cleansing that is happening in the Gaza Strip,” according to the statement.
Anthony Taylor-Gougé/Courtesy of MN Anti-War Committee

At the intersection of Hennepin and Lyndale avenues and Vineland Place, a group of rally attendees held a “die-in,” a form of protest in which participants lie down in public as if dead to show the “seriousness of the ethnic cleansing that is happening in the Gaza Strip,” the organizers said, noting this is where the chaos erupted.

“A hostile driver threatened protesters with his car and a box cutter,” the statement reads. “He was disarmed by protest security but then he drove through the crowd.”

Video shared on social media shows a white vehicle driving into the crowd before the driver appears to exit the car and briefly engage with people nearby, according to drone footage and ground audio captured by non-profit media organization Unicorn Riot, which amassed an online following for its live-stream coverage of the protests that erupted in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd.

As the driver is getting back inside the vehicle, the crowd starts to surround the car before the driver backs up and speeds away, the drone footage shows. In the three-minute clip, shared by Unicorn Riot on X, formerly Twitter, the white vehicle turns around and heads back toward the rally attendees before driving off.

“Minneapolis – Around 1:45 pm as pro-Palestine demonstrators held a ‘die-in’ at Lyndale/Hennepin, an alleged counter-protester drove into the crowd, possibly firing a a gun or firecracker while driving away. Our drone footage paired w/ audio from on the ground shows the incident,” Unicorn Riot said in the X post shared Sunday evening.

After the altercation, the crowd continued to protest, and the rally closed with a prayer, the event’s organizers said in the statement.

“The goals of the protest were to show the level of support in the Twin Cities for Palestinians in Gaza who are struggling to stay alive after the Israeli government cut off electricity and water to the 2 million people in the Gaza Strip. The protest called for an immediate ceasefire, an end to the siege of Gaza, and for immediate humanitarian aid to Gaza,” the protests’ organizers said in a statement to Newsweek.

During the protest, attendees hung Palestinian flags and banners that read pro-Palestinian messages, including: “Divest Minnesota from Apartheid Israel” from the pedestrian bridge over Interstate 94 that connects the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with Loring Park.

The Minneapolis protest came as Israel announced it would intensify its strikes on the Gaza Strip and that it continues to prepare for a ground assault. Saturday marked two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants and Israeli forces following surprise attacks on Israel on October 7

As of Sunday, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 4,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli actions, including the disputed death toll from a hospital explosion, according to The Associated Press. Israel says more than 1,400 Israelis have been killed and at least 212 others have been taken hostage.

Sunday’s protest was the fourth large-scale protest in Minnesota since October 9, according to the organizers. The next protest will take place outside of U.S. Representative Betty McCullom’s office at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.