A new Minnesota Senate report blames the slow response of Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for an estimated $500 million in damage after the death of George Floyd.
Floyd died while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department in May, sparking riots, extensive looting and other destruction both in the Twin Cities as well as nationwide.
The report concluded the rioting, escalation of violence, and burning of the 3rd Police Precinct wouldn’t have happened as quickly had the leaders acted faster.
Walz first mobilized the Minnesota National Guard 18 hours after Frey requested assistance, the report found. However, the Guard wasn’t fully mobilized until four days after the first building was burned.
“The number one role of government is to keep its citizens safe,” state Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove, said in a statement. “A careful examination of the events that took place following the tragic death of George Floyd shows that the state’s crisis response needs significant improvement. The aim is not to relitigate the past, but rather help us prevent riots like this from happening in the future.”
The report found that in six days of riots, the St. Paul Fire Department responded to over 1,150 calls.
The report found four themes:
- Failure to Lead: Executive leadership at the state and local level failed to distinguish between demonstrators and rioters. Furthermore, leaders failed to provide the guidance Minnesotans expect from their offices.
- Philosophical Conflict Caused a Hesitation to Confront Ideological Allies: Walz and elected local leaders identified with the causes promoted by the demonstrators, causing them to lose sight of their responsibility to protect the public from criminal acts committed during the riots.
- Underestimation of the Escalation and Organization of the Riots: Walz did not realize the severity of events as they unfolded, resulting in a delayed reaction and increased violence.
- Refusal to Confront Criminal Violence with Force: Walz and Frey initially chose to negotiate with and appease the rioters rather than give law enforcement the authority to confront criminal acts with enough force to restore law and order. A primary responsibility of the Office of the Governor of the State of Minnesota and local elected officials is to protect the public. Inaction on the part of state and local officials led to an increase in violence.
“For nearly a week at the end of May, Minnesotans watched in horror each night as Minneapolis descended further into chaos,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement.
“They were begging for leadership that took far too long to arrive – an unacceptable reality that must be addressed and fixed. Like anything else in life, the only way to improve is by studying what went wrong and what went right.”
The report is the result of four joint committee hearings investigating the riots, recordings of press conferences, news articles, data practice requests, and witness testimony.
Taxpayers spent nearly $13 million to deploy about 7,000 National Guard members to clear the rioters.
The report gave several recommendations:
- Law enforcement at all levels of government must be given necessary equipment, personnel and authority to confront and stop riots before they escalate.
- Those who commit criminal acts under the guise of social protest must be arrested and prosecuted.
- Elected leaders in both the executive and legislative branches must recognize that public safety is a critical necessity.
In response to the report, Walz said: “I wish I could find some partners.”
“A one-sided report coming out right before an election isn’t helpful, but if there’s helpful advice in there, I’ll certainly take it,” Walz told reporters Tuesday.
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