National Guard moves to Minneapolis

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According to Inforum

Miles away from the sites of looting and vandalism in St. Paul thousands gathered for a peaceful demonstration downtown Thursday evening, May 28.

For a third day, demonstrators convened near the site where George Floyd was held down by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck as he said he couldn’t breathe. Thousands marched through the streets and called for the prosecution of four police officers on the scene during the incident. After about four hours, protesters were met with stun grenades and tear gas from police after some demonstrators threw objects at officers around 9 p.m. Thursday.

State and federal investigators and prosecutors said work on parallel investigations into the death were ongoing and they asked for additional information from witnesses to help fill out the framework of what happened. And they urged those calling for quick answers to remain calm and give them time.

Prior deadly force charges had been brought too quickly and failed in court, they said.

“We are going to investigate it as expeditiously, as thoroughly and completely as justice demands. Sometimes that takes a little time. And we ask people to be patient,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.

Community leaders including local elected officials and faith leaders, meanwhile, have spoken out to criticize the actions of Minneapolis police officers that preceded Floyd’s death. In a statement posted online, the National Fraternal Order of Police — the largest cop union in the U.S. — condemned tactics used on Floyd.

Floyd was transported to the hospital after he was arrested and pinned down on Monday. He later died and a video depicting his last minutes sparked widespread backlash and a call to investigate what happened after police initially called it a medical disorder.

A day after dozens of stores were looted near demonstrations against Minneapolis police and several fires were set in the Powderhorn neighborhood, Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday activated the Minnesota National Guard to assist Minneapolis police and other law enforcement in containing demonstrations. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had called on the state to deploy the Minnesota National Guard to the city as demonstrators.

The move to bring in the National Guard went against the guidance of protesters and community leaders who called for de-escalation and removal of police. State and local officials along with prominent faith leaders urged demonstrators to protest peacefully Thursday night.

“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,’” Walz said in a news release. “Let’s come together to rebuild, remember, and seek justice for George Floyd.”

The Minneapolis NAACP on Thursday tweeted that the National Guard presence was not needed and asked for law enforcement to deescalate the scene.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said his department would allow peaceful protests to continue but would take action against those looting or setting fires.

“Even prior to Mr. Floyd’s death, we have had a community that has been in trauma for quite some time. And what I cannot allow as chief is for others to compound that trauma. So, if individuals, as occurred last night, are committing behaviors and acts which are criminal … I cannot allow that,” Arradondo said. “I am committed to making sure we restore peace and security in our community.”

The activation and a peacetime emergency declaration free up state patrol helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to help monitor demonstrations and access to the State Emergency Operations Center, which had been activated due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Frey said Minneapolis enabled a unified command structure that allowed it to bring in additional jurisdictions to assist with law enforcement needs, including 200 troopers from the State Patrol. Police from St. Paul and suburban police forces on Wednesday night joined Minneapolis officers in responding to demonstrations.

 

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