Winston Smith, who was killed after he allegedly opened fire on police in Minneapolis Thursday, believed he was in a “war” with law enforcement and distributed plans to kill cops.
Smith died in the Uptown neighborhood on June 3 after he shot at a U.S. Marshals task force that was attempting to arrest him on felony gun charges, according to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Smith would be in jail right now if his 48 month armed robbery sentence hadn’t been stayed in 2018, per court documents published by Crime Watch Minneapolis.
Smith’s violent resistance to arrest may have been motivated by his belief that he was engaged in a “war” on cops.
For years leading up to his death, Smith made statements across social media platforms vowing to shoot police officers if he were ever to be apprehended, encouraging his followers to bring guns and bombs to protests and outlining tactics he believed would be most effective to kill members of law enforcement. He also frequently suggested that he was meeting with like-minded people and taking tangible steps towards these aims.
“Get ready for war,” Smith told his followers via Instagram in mid-April.
“Motherfuckers are finna move on these ‘ops,” he continued, using a slang term that means people would attack police.
“All the shooters, suit up,” he ordered. “Lace your boots up, it’s war fucking time. Bring your gun to the protest, bring them fucking bombs and rocket launchers and all that shit.”
“That’s the fucking plan,” he concluded.
Smith also gave more specific advice, elaborating on what he believed would be the best tactics to win his “war” against cops.
“Hit these motherfuckers from the top of these buildings,” he suggested in another April Instagram video. “I’m ’bout to just strike as much as I can while I can and get up outta there … in, out, keep sabotaging shit,” he advised his followers.
Smith even had a plan to evade capture: “Imma hide in a group of my people and say ‘nope we innocent.'”
He also echoed an idea often posited by left-wing thought leaders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that conservatives and law enforcement should be made uncomfortable.
“Start taking motherfuckers out they comfort zone,” Smith said, referring once again to police.
“If you see a cop, one cop following one [racial slur], the whole city [should] flood that cop, take him down,” he said, apparently suggesting that his followers should attack police who appear poised to arrest black people.
Smith’s violent rhetoric seems to be fairly long-lived. Screenshots of his years-old Facebook posts in which he vowed to open fire rather than be arrested have been recirculated on social media in recent days.
Smith’s call to bring bombs to rallies constituted “real protesting,” according to Minnesota Uprising, a Twitter account that keeps protesters informed about the latest events in the Twin Cities.
Protests in his name continued for a third consecutive night Saturday and left at least one person severely injured Friday night.