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Minnesota Governor: Continuing Protests Are ‘a Mockery of Pretending This Is About George Floyd’s Death.’ Here’s What to Know

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Updated: | Originally published:

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Minneapolis and Saint Paul “are under assault by people who do not share [Minnesota’s] values,” during a press conference Saturday morning. Walz added that the “situation in Minneapolis is no longer in anyway about the murder of George Floyd” said he is authorizing a full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard, which has never been done in state history.

Despite a city-wide curfew, protests in Minneapolis over Floyd’s murder continued Friday night as thousands of people filled the streets. Multiple fires broke out, including in a Japanese restaurant, a Wells Fargo bank and an Office Depot, according to the Associated Press. Protests also continued in Saint Paul, although the city’s Mayor Melvin Carter said there was a “relative stillness” due to the city’s curfew. At Saturday morning’s press conference, Carter said that every person arrested in the city Friday night was from out of the state.

On Saturday, Walz said “legitimate rage and anger” over Floyd’s murder “manifested in a very healthy gathering of community” on Tuesday night, “was still present to a certain degree on Wednesday,” was “nearly gone” by Thursday. He said Friday night was “a mockery of pretending this is about George Floyd’s death, our inequities, our historical traumas to our communities of color.”

“Because our communities of color and our indigenous communities were out front fighting hand in hand to save businesses that took generations to build,” Walz continued.

Walz said the largest mobilization of law enforcement in the state’s history happened Friday night, including 700 National Guard members. The Minnesota National Guard was already operational in Minneapolis, working to help the state secure areas of the city since early Friday morning after protests over the week had become increasingly violent.

On Saturday, Walz said he has now authorized a full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard — adding an additional 1,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen — in an attempt to control the city’s unrest. He said it was the first time in the state’s history and the state’s National Guard Twitter account said it was the first time since World War II.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed during an arrest over an alleged forgery at a grocery store. Cell phone footage shows Floyd was held face-down, with his hands cuffed behind his back and with an officer’s knee weighing down on his neck, as he repeated that he “can’t breathe.”

The four responding officers have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department and, on Friday, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced. (Chauvin’s attorney did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment.)

The three other responding officers have not been taken into custody, although Freeman said they are under investigation and he “anticipates charges.”

Protests have broken out across the U.S. following the release of footage of Floyd’s arrest, which was shot by bystanders.

On Thursday night protesters breached the Minneapolis police precinct in the neighborhood where George Floyd died in police custody, setting fire to the building. Police had evacuated the third precinct around 10 p.m. and local station KSTP-TV, which was broadcasting live from the scene, reported that firefighters were not attempting to reach the scene to put out the fire—as a large crowd gathered around the blaze.

Major General Jon Jensen said on Friday that the Minnesota National Guard has been given multiple missions, including responding to an impending threat to the state capitol, providing prison security and escorting emergency services as they enter “unsecured and dangerous areas.” “We will continue to operate in Minneapolis until such time that the governor relieves us of that mission,” Jensen said.

On Friday, Former President Barack Obama also released a statement on Floyd’s murder, saying, “This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America. It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”

During a press conference on Friday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said that a generation “of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world,” and added that “the world is watching.” But, he stressed that the “looting and recklessness” in the state must end. “We can’t have it, because we can’t have it in society,” he said. “I refuse to have it take away the attention from the stain we need to be working on.”

A crew of CNN reporters covering the protests were also arrested by police on Friday. Live video footage shows Omar Jimenez, a reporter for CNN who is black, politely complying with police officers while holding his press pass. Two other members of his crew were also handcuffed and detained.

The crew was released from the Hennepin County Public Safety facility in Minneapolis just shortly after 6:30 am, according to CNN. Around 9:45 am ET, Jimenez tweeted that he had returned to reporting on the protests.

Josh Campell, a white reporter for CNN, said he was approached by police but was not arrested. “I was treated much differently than [Jimenez] was,” Campell said.

During the Friday press conference, Walz said that the arrest was inexcusable and apologized to CNN and the other journalists in the room.

George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, said Thursday morning on CNN that he wants “everybody to be peaceful right now,” but that he understands the protesters’ pain from “seeing black men die constantly over and over again.”

“I don’t want them to lash out like that but I can’t stop people right now because they have pain. They have the same pain that I feel,” Floyd said. “I want everything to be peaceful but I can’t make everybody be peaceful. It’s hard.”

President Donald Trump weighed in early Friday to criticize Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for not bringing “the city under control,” and, although Minnesota’s governor had already activated the national guard, said he would “send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”

In A following tweet Trump called violent protesters “thugs” and appeared to suggest that they should be shot. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter flagged the tweet both on Trump’s feed and on the official White House twitter page, saying it violated the social media platform’s rules on glorifying violence. It was a first for the company, though on Tuesday the company flagged two Trump tweets about mail-in ballots as “unsubstantiated.” The President responded to Twitter’s earlier action by signing an executive order aimed at stripping social media companies of legal protections.

In a tweet a few hours later Trump said that he meant “looting leads to shooting,” and said “I don’t want this to happen.”




Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also weighed in on the situation in Minneapolis Friday morning, tweeting, “Enough.” In a separate tweet, Biden wrote, “This is not abstract: a black reporter was arrested while doing his job this morning, while the white police officer who killed George Floyd remains free. I am glad swift action was taken, but this, to me, says everything.”

Protests first began on Tuesday evening, borne of anger over Floyd’s killing. Thousands of protesters filled the streets of Minneapolis and clashed with police, who shot tear gas and projectiles, according to the StarTribune.

Protests continued on Wednesday, with authorities saying some protesters set fires and looted stores amid the chaos, which began to spread to nearby St. Paul, according to local media. At least five people were struck by gunfire, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, and one man was fatally shot near the protests. Minneapolis police also fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.

On Thursday, as at least 50 people looted a Target store in St. Paul and caused property damage to other businesses in the area in the afternoon, police told the Star Tribune.

Gov. Walz addressed the violence in a series of tweets Thursday afternoon: “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. George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction.”



Frey also declared a local emergency Thursday for up to 72 hours, according to the Star Tribune.

“What we have seen over the past several days and the past couple of nights is unacceptable. Our communities cannot and will not tolerate it,” Frey said.

A spokesperson with the governor’s office told the news station the state had already deployed between 50 and 60 state troopers to help Minneapolis police.

On Thursday, federal authorities announced that they would launch “a robust criminal investigation” into the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death. U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald and Special Agent Rainer Drolshagen said in a joint statement that the “investigation is a top priority” with “experienced prosecutors and FBI criminal investigators” looking into the case.

Steel Brooks—Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesA memorial for George Floyd is seen on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 during the second day of protests over his death in Minneapolis.

Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer representing Floyd’s family, said on CNN that he has been in contact with the mayor and prosecutor’s office.

“What is it—is it two justice systems? One for black America and one for white America,” Crump said. “We can’t have that. We have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protestors are crying out for.”

Correction, May 29

The original version of this story misstated George Floyd’s age. He was 46, not 43.

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Write to Michael Zennie at michael.zennie@time.com, Sanya Mansoor at sanya.mansoor@time.com, Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com and Madeleine Carlisle at madeleine.carlisle@time.com