Gov. Tim Walz has authorized the Minnesota National Guard to provide public safety assistance in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the trials of the four former police officers charged in the death of George Floyd.
The trial of Derek Chauvin, who is charged with 2nd-degree murder in Floyd's death during his arrest on May 25, gets underway in Minneapolis on Mar. 8.
Floyd's death sparked global protests as well as rioting in Minneapolis and St. Paul towards the end of May, and there are concerns that the trial of Chauvin, as well as the trial of his three fellow officers later this year, could spark further unrest in the Twin Cities.
To that end, Walz is preemptively authorizing the National Guard to help with the public safety operation as state and local authorities seek to ensure that any protests remain peaceful.
He made the move at the request of Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter, of Minneapolis and St. Paul respectively, with Walz noting: "There are some public safety events for which you cannot plan, and there are some for which you can."
This past week has seen a terse debate over public safety planning ahead of Chauvin's trial, with Walz asking the Legislature to authorize his SAFE Act proposal, which would create a $35 million fund to help cities pay for mutual aid when they ask neighboring jurisdictions for police or firefighting help.
But this has been opposed by the Minnesota GOP Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, who said the state should not "bail out" Minneapolis after its city council made efforts to replace the Minneapolis Police Department following Floyd's death.
"Actions to defund the police have consequences," Gazelka said, though the fund would be available for all Minnesota cities to use.