Governor Tim Walz did not fan flames Friday when asked on WCCO Radio to respond to comments made earlier in the week by Mayor Jacob Frey, who cast blame on the Minnesota governor for not acting fast enough as south Minneapolis burned during riots following the death of George Floyd in late May.
In an interview with the Star Tribune, Frey said he asked Walz to activate the National Guard on Wednesday, May 27 – the second night of unrest – that ultimately led to countless businesses looted, damaged, and set on fire.
“We expressed the seriousness of the situation. The urgency was clear,” Frey told the Tribune, adding that Walz initially said "he would consider" sending in troops.
The Star Tribune cited evidence showing Frey requested the Guard around 6:30 p.m. May 27, though the governor's office responded to the newspaper saying a written formal request was needed to take action.
The Tribune reported that Minneapolis Police Chief Medario Arradondo emailed Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington at 9:11 p.m. that night requesting "immediate assistance" for a mission plan that included using 600 troops to assist with “Area Security and Force Protection Operations,” “Area Denial Operations,” “Transportation assistance for law enforcement officers,” “Logistical assistance for the overall security operation.”
Walz activated the Guard at 2:30 p.m. the next day, though despite troops entering the Twin Cities, the night of May 28 saw more destruction, including the torching of the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct at E Lake St. and Minnehaha Ave.
"Those days were the hardest days anybody will be up against and I believe that Mayor Frey was making the best decisions in the best interest of his city as quickly as he could," Walz said Friday.
Walz, who spent 24 years in the National Guard, called it a "difficult situation" that "had really never been done."
"I can just tell Minnesotans that in the real time in that, the protection of property, of citizens, and then thinking about about putting law enforcement – State Patrol, DNR, National Guard – down there. I had make sure I had them equipped, that they had a mission and that we were communicating together," he said.
"When we prepared for big events like the Super Bowl, 18 months of planning goes into that. We had about eight hours. I just believe this is not a personal rip, I think the Mayor called for the National Guard as quickly as we could, we responded as quickly as we could."