Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Saturday he has authorized “full mobilization” of the state’s National Guard – something that has never been done in the 164-year history of the Minnesota National Guard.
Walz, who has been hammered by residents, critics and the press for his response to the crisis in his state, pushed back on the idea that the protests, which have turned increasingly violent, now have anything to do with George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis killed while in police custody.
“The tactics and the approach that we have taken have evolved and need to evolve the same way, with a sensitivity to the legitimate rage and anger that came after what the world witnessed in the murder of George Floyd and was manifested in a very healthy gathering of community to memorialize that Tuesday night, which was still present to a certain degree on Wednesday,” he said, adding, “By Thursday it was nearly gone and last night is a mockery of pretending this is about George Floyd’s death or inequities or historical traumas to our communities of color.”
During his Saturday morning press conference, Walz also thanked first responders “who are out there protecting our cities.”
“As they were taking incoming fire, improvised explosive devices and a highly evolved and tightly-controlled group of folks bent on adapting their tactics to make it as difficult as possible to maintain that order,” he said.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey added that most of the violent protesters aren’t residents of the city but instead people taking advantage of a situation and hellbent on fanning the flames of hate.
“This is no longer about protesting,” Frey said. “This is about violence and we need to make sure that it stops.”
Both leaders have implied that organized outsiders, including but not limited to anarchists, white supremacists and gangs from other states, were behind the destruction and chaos in Minneapolis.
“The sheer number of rioters has made it impossible to make coherent arrests… The capacity to be able to do offensive action was greatly diminished” by the sheer scope and seemingly organized nature of the assaults,” Walz said.
“The terrifying thing is that this resembles more a military operation now as you observe ringleaders moving from place to place,” he added.
Fed up residents and local businesses that have been looted and set on fire hope the city will see some calm with the arrival of the National Guard.
Minnesota’s National Guard is comprised of more than 13,000 soldiers, according to the Guard’s 2019 annual report.
Reinforcements from the active-duty forces could also be on the way soon. Military police units have been put on alert. Fox News can confirm at least one unit out of Fort Drum, New York home to the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division has been told to be ready to deploy in 4-hours if needed.
Military Police units could be used to back up law enforcement in Minnesota, but no orders have been given to deploy, officials tell Fox News.
Deploying active-duty forces is not without precedent inside the United States. In 1992, thousands of active-duty forces were dispatched to Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots under the Insurrection Act of 1807.
Floyd’s death Monday has sparked protests and rioting across the U.S., from New York City and Washington, D.C., to Chicago; Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Ky., and Dallas, to San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. Four Minneapolis police officers were fired Monday, while one of them, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
“The arrest of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the brutal killing of George Floyd is a welcome but overdue step on the road to justice,” Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said Friday, according to FOX 9. “We expected a first-degree murder charge. We want a first-degree murder charge. And we want to see the other officers arrested.”
Meantime, all across the nation came reports of arson fires, looting and smashed windows and vehicles. From some cities came reports of gunfire against police officers.
And all of it happened as the nation continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 Americans.
In Portland, Ore., a crowd smashed windows and sparked a fire inside the city’s Justice Center, FOX 12 of Oregon reported.
In San Jose, police officers fired on an SUV that struck at least two people, according to the Mercury News.
“The whole crowd started chasing the car but it got away,” Saul Duarte, a protester who recorded the incident on video, told the newspaper. “After that, everyone surrounded the two injured people and tried helping but the cops started tear-gassing us.”
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In Oakland, Calif., police said several officers were injured by projectiles, FOX 2 of the Bay Area reported.
Bystanders also reported being injured.
“I got punched in the face and my cell phone was taken,” one motorist told FOX 2.
In Detroit, Michigan, one man was killed and dozens more arrested. The shooting occurred near a large protest at Cadillac Square when someone in a gray Dodge Durango fired shots into the crowd, hitting a 19-year-old, according to police, per The Detroit News.
In New York, rioters torched a police van and NYPD officers reported hundreds of arrests, The New York Post reported.
In Washington, the White House was briefly placed on lockdown as crowds reached a boiling point, FOX 5 of DC reported.
In Atlanta, a crowd stormed the entrance to CNN headquarters, at one point climbing onto the TV network’s logo outside the building.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an impassioned plea for rioters to stop their violence and simply go home.
“What I see happening in the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta,” Bottoms said, according to FOX 5 Atlanta. “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose.”
“What I see happening in the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. This is chaos. A protest has purpose.”
In Chicago, demonstrators shut down streets in the Loop, many of them chanting, “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd was heard saying on a video that went viral, showing a police officer kneeling on his neck, FOX 32 reported.
Early Saturday, Chicago police were deployed to the Trump International Hotel and Tower, where a crowd had gathered.
Video posted on social media showed people lying on the ground after apparently being struck by objects.
Hundreds of protesters filled the streets in Louisville, where they demonstrated for a second night not only against Floyd’s death but against the death of Breonna Taylor, an emergency room technician who was killed by a police officer in her home on March 13.
Police used tear gas against the crowd, FOX affiliate WDRB-TV reported.
“This has been a very sad night for our city,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told reporters just after 1 a.m. Saturday. “There needs to be ample recognition of the underlying inequity that causes so much of this frustration, but there is no excuse for the destruction of property we have seen this evening. This is not protest; it is violence.”
“There is no excuse for the