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Gov. Tim Walz criticized for comments on 'thoughtful' use of tear gas, other crowd control tactics

The governor is under fire for comments he made Tuesday as protests continue over the police killing of Daunte Wright.
Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz is coming in for criticism by activists in the Twin Cities for comments he made regarding the police use of crowd control munitions such as tear gas on people protesting the death of Daunte Wright.

The governor was interviewed on MPR News Tuesday, ahead of the third night of clashes between law enforcement and protesters in Brooklyn Center that saw some of the most aggressive measures used by police yet.

After complaints over the use of chemical munitions such as tear gas, Walz says he disagrees with such measures if they are "used indiscriminately and without a clear purpose."

But of their use on Monday night, Walz said: "I would argue and make the case that last night, the protection of life, the protection of property, and the clear thoughtful use of how these were deployed in a limited manner made sense."

It was this comment, suggesting that measures such as tear gas can be used in a "thoughtful" manner as a way of dispersing protesters, that has seen the governor come in for criticism, with some even calling for his resignation.

Tear gas and other crowd control measures affect more than just those acting aggressively toward police, with many protesters further back from the line also caught up in it, as well as members of the media, and residents living in apartment buildings adjacent to the police department.

The Sahan Journal reports children living in one building opposite the precinct have suffered from tear gas exposure this week, while another resident was hit by a rubber bullet.

The law enforcement response to the protests in Brooklyn Center is being coordinated by Operation Safety Net, which is a multi-agency operation created for the security surrounding the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Dererk Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd.

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Partners include the Minnesota State Patrol, the Hennepin County and Ramsey County sheriff's offices, Minneapolis Police Department, and the Minnesota National Guard, the last of which has doubled its presence in recent days in response to the unrest following Wright's death.

At a press conference in the early hours of Wednesday, Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said that riot police had deployed crowd control munitions in response to bricks, cans, and bottles being thrown at officers.

Walz had said that police have to "strike a balance" when using the "deterrents."

Among those injured in recent days was Star Tribune photojournalist Mark Vancleave, who suffered a broken finger and required surgery after being hit by a rubber bullet on Monday night.

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