The governor has called in the Minnesota National Guard to help with the unrest following the death of George Floyd.
Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday signed an executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard to help protect Minnesotan's safety and maintain peace, a news release says. This executive order comes days after Floyd died after an officer kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed.
His death led to protests, riots and looting, which have escalated in the days since his death on May 25.
“As governor, I will always defend the right to protest,” Walz said in a statement. “It is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.”
The National Guard was activated at the request of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and other local leaders after the peaceful protests turned dangerous.
“It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect," Walz said. "George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction. As George Floyd’s family has said, ‘Floyd would not want people to get hurt. He lived his life protecting people.’ Let’s come together to rebuild, remember, and seek justice for George Floyd."
The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency.
Roughly 200 Minnesota State Patrol troopers will also assist in public safety efforts over the "next several days" and State Patrol helicopters and fixed wind aircraft will be available to assist law enforcement on the ground.
“The anger and grief of this moment is unbearable. People deserve to be seen. People deserve to be heard. People deserve to be safe,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a statement. “While many Minnesotans are taking extensive safety precautions while exercising their right to protest, the demonstration last night became incredibly unsafe for all involved. The purpose of the National Guard is to protect people, to protect people safely demonstrating, and to protect small business owners.”
Gov. Walz's executive order also declares a peacetime emergency, which activates the State Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate the state's response. This center was already activated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so now it will support both the pandemic response and the city of Minneapolis.