About 100 Minnesota National Guard soldiers have been activated, and are "standing by and prepared" should the City of Minneapolis ask for their help responding to protests in Uptown.
Mayor Jacob Frey, in a letter to Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday, requested a "limited number" of Minnesota National Guard soldiers be made available "to assist in ensuring calm and order throughout the city." Frey specifically asked they not be immediately deployed, however, but cited the need for "preparedness."
The governor assented, according to a statement from his office Wednesday afternoon, and told the National Guard to "start preparing to assist local law enforcement should they need help." As of about 1 p.m. Tuesday, the city has not stated a need for the soldiers, nor have operational orders been given.
On Twitter, the Minnesota National Guard said it activated approximately 100 soldiers with the 257th Military Police Company, for "potential support to civil unrest within the city." The soldiers were not in Minneapolis as of 1 p.m. Wednesday but were "standing by and prepared to respond."
The mayor's ask comes following a police crackdown at the intersection of Lake Street and Girard Avenue in Minneapolis Monday night. Protestors have been at the site regularly since the June 3 law enforcement shooting of Winston Smith, and have repeatedly erected makeshift barriers, closing off the intersection to vehicle traffic.
Frey on Tuesday afternoon said while the city supports people making their voice heard, the "unauthorized shutdown" of an intersection in the busy commercial corridor was unsafe and needed to stop. That night, dozens of law enforcement officers quickly descended on the scene, sometimes using pepper spray and rubber bullets as some demonstrators threw objects.
Despite Frey promising law enforcement would issue a dispersal order, providing demonstrators time to leave, witnesses on scene said no such order was given.
The Minneapolis Police Department on Wednesday said three people were arrested on suspicion of gross misdemeanor or felony charges, while 27 people received misdemeanor citations. A spokesperson said those taken into custody for certain violations were indeed told to disperse prior to their arrest.
Mayor Frey's request to have Minnesota National Guard soldiers ready suggests city leaders are planning for continued shut downs at the Uptown site. Protestors have demanded transparency from law enforcement agencies involved in Smith's killing, which have at times provided inconsistent and incomplete information.
Activists have also set up a memorial there for Deona Marie Knajdek Erickson, who died when a motorist drove through a crowd at the scene Sunday night.
Here is a look at the mayor's letter in full: