Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced Saturday that he was “fully” mobilizing the National Guard, a first in the state’s history, to help control the violent unrest that followed peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
“Let’s be very clear, the situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said.
The governor said he had “sensitivity to the legitimate rage and anger” that Minnesotans felt after Floyd’s death, which manifested earlier in the week with “healthy gathering of community.”
By Thursday, Walz said that peaceful protest was gone and that the destruction Friday night made a “mockery” of Floyd’s death.
“At this point of time, it is nothing short of a blessing that we have not had someone killed as an innocent bystander in this,” Walz said.
The governor said the tactics of first responders will be to reduce loss of life and property in the state, where small businesses and community nonprofits were damaged in the unrest.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter (D), who also spoke during the news briefing, said the violent demonstrators weren’t from their cities. Carter said there were “relatively few arrests” during Friday night’s protests, but the people arrested were all from other states.
“Those folks are agitating and inciting and taking advantage of the pain, hurt, frustration, anger and real and legitimate sadness that so many of our community members feel to advocate for the destruction of our communities,” Carter said.
Walz warned of more protesters gathering Saturday night spurred by increased police presence.
“This is only going to make it more difficult tonight,” Walz said.
Minnesota National Guard Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen told reporters that there were already 700 guardsmen mobilized as of early Saturday but by noon, there will be 2,500 guard members activated and they were requesting federal assistance.
“What does that mean? It means we’re all in,” Jensen said.
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