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The Minnesota National Guard is set to provide public safety support in St. Paul — and ready to respond in Minneapolis should the city request it.

Gov. Tim Walz on Friday afternoon issued an executive order authorizing the National Guard to assist with public safety in St. Paul. The request, Walz's office said, came from the city, and is related to the federal civil rights trial of former Minneapolis police officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng in George Floyd's death.

The federal trial began on Jan. 24 and was expected to take about a month, but was suspended Wednesday after one of the defendants tested positive for COVID. It's set to resume Monday. The defense has yet to call any witnesses.

In Friday's announcement, the governor's office also references Wednesday's police killing of Amir Locke, saying the Minnesota National Guard "will be prepared" if Minneapolis requests public safety help.

Walz said the move was made "out of an abundance of caution," adding: “The National Guard will be available to help keep the peace, ensure public safety, and allow for peaceful demonstrations.”

The governor clarified the order does not, at this point, direct the Minnesota National Guard to take up posts around the Twin Cities.

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National Guard members and vehicles became a regular sight in Minneapolis in the immediate aftermath of Floyd's murder, with armed soldiers and law enforcement officers stationed along busy thoroughfares and patrolling the streets, as they did again during the trial of former MPD officer Derek Chauvin.

It's unclear what city leaders expect from the weekend. A protest related to Locke's shooting death is currently planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hennepin County Government Center.

Walz said the Minnesota State Patrol could also be brought in if the local police departments need the extra support. 

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