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Gov. Tim Walz activates Minnesota National Guard to restore order amid riots, looting

Liz Navratil and Libor Jany
Thursday May 28, 2020

The Midtown Corner apartment building, at 29th St. and 26th Av. S. in Minneapolis, was part of the redevelopment of the former Rainbow Foods site. Developers planned 189 units, with 38 set aside for affordable housing. BRIAN PETERSON – STAR TRIBUNE
The Midtown Corner apartment building, at 29th St. and 26th Av. S. in Minneapolis, was part of the redevelopment of the former Rainbow Foods site. Developers planned 189 units, with 38 set aside for affordable housing. BRIAN PETERSON – STAR TRIBUNE

Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard to restore order in the wake of protests, riots and looting following George Floyd’s death.

Walz’s order issued Thursday afternoon came after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s calls for assistance after widespread damage across Lake Street Wednesday night. Damage and looting has since spread to St. Paul.

“It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect,” Walz said in a statement. “George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction. As George Floyd’s family has said, ‘Floyd would not want people to get hurt. He lived his life protecting people.’ Let’s come together to rebuild, remember, and seek justice for George Floyd”.

The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency. In addition, the Minnesota State Patrol will supply 200 troopers. State Patrol helicopters and other aircraft will also be available to assist law enforcement officers on the ground.

Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo promised to work with local community leaders in hopes of keeping the protests more peaceful.

They, along with City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins, repeated calls for people to protest peacefully, noting that many of the structures that were set on fire in the previous night’s riots serve vital functions during a pandemic, selling food and filling prescriptions, for example.

“If you’re feeling that sadness, that anger, it’s not only understandable, it’s right. It’s a reflection of the truth that our black community has lived,” Frey said during a morning press conference, his voice occasionally catching. “We must believe that we can be better than we have been.”

Wednesday night’s protests began peacefully and escalated into gunfire and arson, with about 30 buildings reported ablaze, and countless others damaged. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Wednesday night’s destruction eclipsed Tuesday’s, which was focused solely around the 3rd Precinct, where the officers that responded to the call that resulted in Floyd’s death worked.

“There was a different tenor last night. There was a core group of people who had really been focused on causing destruction,” Arradondo said. “We were certainly prepared in terms of (the 3rd Precinct) to provide for safety, but the crowds got larger and they became more mobile.”

Arradondo said police are investigating reports that some of the most destructive behavior might have been done by people who are not familiar to Minneapolis community leaders. To prepare for additional protests Thursday, city officials said they are establishing a command center that will allow various departments to communicate more efficiently both among themselves and with any other jursidictions that might assist.

Frey called on Gov. Tim Walz late Wednesday to send in the National Guard, a decision that only the governor can make. Walz is expected to announce a decision on that later Thursday, according to a spokesman.

The decision to call for the National Guard has been controversial, with some people arguing they fear it will only further incite a group that has already been traumatized by law enforcement.

City officials said they will brainstorm ways in the coming days to try to help businesses and homeowners who lost their investments in the fire, but Frey noted their ability to offer assistance will be limited. The city is already in a budget crush caused by the pandemic. Frey repeated his calls for financial assistance from the state and federal governments.

“This calls into question how much assistance we do need from the federal and state government now,” he said. “We needed it before this killing took place; it’s all the more essential after.”

He and others promised to try to create a safe space for healing and peaceful protests.

Jenkins, who represents the ward where Floyd was detained before he died, said black leaders are going to develop a healing space in the third precinct so “people can express their grief and anger in a humane way.”

“We need peace and calm in our streets and I am begging you for that calm.” Jenkins said.

One man was fatally shot the night of the riots allegedly while allegedly trying to loot Cadillac Pawn & Jewelry, at 1538 E. Lake St., according to sources. The victim, whose identity hasn’t yet been released, died later at a nearby hospital. A 58-year-old man is in custody.

Frey called for action by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who has the authority to seek charges in Floyd’s death.

Because the BCA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation, those two agencies have the authority to make an arrest, said police spokesman John Elder. Either agency could arrest any of the four officers at any time if they believe they have probable cause. The BCA would send the case to Freeman’s office for charging, while the FBI would send the case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The city identified the officers involved as Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. Chief Medaria Arradondo fired all four Tuesday. Chauvin, 44, is a 19-year department veteran. Thao is a 12-year veteran. Kueng joined the department in 2017 and Lane in 2019.

Chauvin is represented by attorney Tom Kelly. Thao is represented by Robert Paule, Kueng by Thomas Plunkett, and Lane by Earl Gray. All declined to comment.

Staff writers Chao Xiong, Paul Walsh, Rochelle Olson, Ryan Faircloth, Matt McKinney, Andy Mannix and Briana Bierschbach contributed to this report.

Liz Navratil covers Minneapolis City Hall for the Star Tribune. She previously worked in Pennsylvania, where she covered state government and crime — and sometimes both at once. She's part of the team that won a 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Reporting.
[email protected]  612-673-4994  @liznavratil

Libor Jany is the Minneapolis crime reporter for the Star Tribune. He joined the newspaper in 2013, after stints in newsrooms in Connecticut, New Jersey, California and Mississippi. He spent his first year working out of the paper's Washington County bureau, focusing on transportation and education issues, before moving to the Dakota County team.
[email protected]  612-673-4064  @StribJany


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