In Minneapolis, more than 4,000 National Guardsmen with thousands more on alert along with an overwhelming police presence kept the lid on the violence that had plagued the city the previous 3 nights. Dozens of people were arrested for violating curfew and other minor offenses as Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was sidelined by Governor Tim Walz because of what the governor called the city’s “abject failure” in quelling the violence. Walz vowed to restore order, calling out 10,000 National Guardsmen.
The deployment, along with pleas from community leaders for protesters to stay indoors, appeared to have had the desired result.
Scattered scenes throughout Minneapolis went from peaceful to tense to confrontational as some citizens ignored the 8 p.m. state-mandated curfew and took to the streets to express their anger over George Floyd’s death after being detained by police. Yet there were few reports of the fires, looting and property damage of previous nights that had left much of the city on edge.
Officials credited the far larger presence of the Minnesota National Guard. The Guard said its force has grown from 700 deployed on Friday to more than 4,100 on patrol or waiting their turn, with that number positioned to grow past 10,000.
The police presence was large and aggressive.
The National Guard moved against demonstrators in the area north of Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue, throwing tear gas bombs and effectively dispersing much of the crowd. Troops continued to advance en masse against the scattering crowd as smoke and tear gas obscured views. A few protesters re-emerged after scattering, and were again greeted with barrages of tear gas.
In the space of 20 minutes, the huge crowd that had been outside the Fifth Precinct was down to just a few people. Near the Lake Street Kmart, law enforcement pushed agitated protesters under a highway overpass, where they created makeshift barricades and chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot!” A line of officers in riot gear a half-block away began firing projectiles.
Police along Lake and behind bullhorns declared the protest unlawful and warned of arrests, sending people into retreat.
If Mayor Frey had used the police this aggressively earlier, the city wouldn’t be out one police station.
The question asked by many in Minnesota is why the governor didn’t order the deployment of the National Guard sooner?
Walz said that Thursday night he was following a process of waiting for Minneapolis leaders to request assistance before sending in the National Guard. “We were staying in the lane that we were asked to support this,” he said. But after watching the situation deteriorate around the Third Precinct, he said the decision was made shortly after midnight to move in. Soldiers arrived around 3:45 a.m. — by which time it had long been on fire.
Gazelka said Walz should not be asking others for a plan. “It was obvious that the Minneapolis mayor was in over his head. And I think that’s where the governor needed to respond with emergency powers and commander-in-chief over our National Guard — the National Guard was simply waiting for a plan of action,” Gazelka said.
Weak, indecisive, and ineffective. And the barbarians took full advantage.