As Minnesota begins to deal with the aftermath of the recent riots, the state's top Republican is taking aim at how Democratic leaders dealt with the crisis.
During a press conference on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that "leadership failed badly" in its handling of the unrest, and that their actions have "tarnished Minnesota's reputation" (comments start at 7:15):
"Can somebody apologize to the people of Minnesota for not protecting the people of Minnesota?" the Republican said.
Pointing out that "there was an apology to CNN" following the arrest of one of the network's reporters in Minnesota, Gazelka asked, "where's the apology to the moms out in the suburbs scared to death about what's happening all around them, and seeing the glowing fire in Minneapolis-St. Paul?"
As the Pioneer Press notes, he blamed Walz for the violence in the Twin Cities, saying he didn't call in the National Guard soon enough, or in adequate numbers.
The senator subsequently expressed regret over the death of George Floyd, and said he hopes Minnesota "leads the nation" in racial reconciliation.
Criticism of coronavirus response
Gazelka also took aim at Gov. Tim Walz's emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic, criticizing Walz for "telling us what to do" without input from lawmakers.
"There needs to be more communication there," he added.
Gazelka went on to criticize the restrictions Walz imposed, saying "the pandemic fear must end."
He called on the governor to lift "all mandates and restrictions" on businesses, restaurants and churches.
"He should not decide who gets to go to a funeral and who does not; he should not decide who gets to go to a wedding; he should not decide what groups of people it's okay to gather in large gatherings, and others don't get to."
"Let individuals decide for themselves how to keep safe," Gazelka said, while making clear that he encourages people to follow CDC guidelines on coronavirus safety.