MINNEAPOLIS — The governor of Minnesota said Saturday he would be "fully mobilizing" the National Guard after overnight protests that he said were no longer about the death of George Floyd but rather an "attack" on civil society by people who were not from the community.
"The situation in Minnesota is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd. It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cites," Gov. Tim Walz said in a morning press conference.
The mayors of the Twin Cities echoed the governor's claim that a majority of protesters were from outside Minnesota but did not immediately provide details.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer kept his knee pressed into his neck for more than eight minutes. Across the country, protesters took to the streets for a fourth day to express their anger of his death.
In scenes both peaceful and violent, thousands of protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.” They hoisted signs reading: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.”
Fires, looting and destruction were not isolated to Minneapolis. In Detroit, one person attending a protest was shot to death. Atlanta saw the CNN Center attacked and its mayor pleaded for calm. Former police officer Derek Michael Chauvin was arrested Friday in Minneapolis on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with Floyd's death.
President Donald Trump said Friday he spoke with Floyd's family and asserted that his relatives are "entitled to justice" in the case.
Volunteers begin cleaning up
Across Minneapolis, groups of volunteers spontaneously appeared to begin cleaning up the damage Saturday morning.
Leaning on her shovel while talking, social worker Kara Vangen, 58, said no one should mistake the cleanup as a criticism of the protests themselves.
"I’m supporting the protesting, completely. And this is my neighborhood, so this is part of the healing," she said, over the scrape of shovels clearing rubble from a burned-out Walgreens.
Protesters 'not Minneapolis residents,' officials claim
Walz said he estimates 20% of protesters are from Minnesota, while about 80% are from outside the state.
"We’re going to start releasing who some of these people are," Walz said.
Minneapolis Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said the department was beginning to do "contract tracing," similar to that done for the coronavirus, to determine who the protesters are and how they are related.
"We have seen things like white supremacist organizers who have posted things on platforms about coming to Minnesota," Harrington said.
Harrington questioned whether the protesters were part of a "cell" or "organized criminal organization."
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said protests in the city Tuesday were largely peaceful and organized by Minneapolis residents, but that the "dynamic has changed over the last several days."
"I want to be very, very clear: The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.
Every person arrested in his St. Paul on Friday night were from out of state, Mayor Melvin Carter said in the morning conference. "What we’re seeing now is a group of people who are not from here," Carter said. "We don’t know these folks."
Officials did not say how many arrests were made.
Minnesota 'fully mobilizes' guard for first time since WWII
Walz said he spoke with the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Saturday, as well as with mayors across the country, and was "fully mobilizing" the state's National Guard for the first time in Minnesota's history.
Walz alleged that the protests were fueled by elements of domestic terrorism, ideological extremists and international destabilization.
Minnesota National Guard Major General Jon Jensen said he expected to have 2,500 soldiers and airmen mobilized by noon, per the governor's executive order. But even that was "not enough," Jensen said. The entire guard would be mobilized for the first time since WWII.
"The Minnesota National Guard is all in," Jensen said.
Twenty-four hours ago, 400 guardsmen had been activated, Jensen said.
Thousands protested in New York City, one charged with attempted murder
The mayor of New York City said he is launching an independent review of Friday night's protests after reviewing videos that show police officers and protesters acting violently.
"Protesters were handled very violently and roughly... and we will not accept that kind of behavior," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a morning news conference.
Responding to a question about a now viral video of an officer throwing a protester to the ground, de Blasio said "that was unacceptable.” De Blasio said some city officials were pepper-sprayed.
"We need to understand exactly why that happened. And there needs to be accountability," he said.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said there was a protest of about 3,000 people in Brooklyn that splintered into smaller protests. There were more than 200 arrests, and multiple officers were injured, Shea said. Some were in the emergency room, and one had had their teeth knocked out, Shea said.
One person threw a Molotov cocktail into an occupied police vehicle, and that person was now under arrest for attempted murder, Shea said. "It is by the grace of god that we don't have dead officers today," Shea said.
Officers also recovered a firearm, brass knuckles and bricks thrown at officers.
Morning in Minneapolis: Firefighters put out blazes, clear rubble
Morning dawned bright in Minneapolis, the sun highlighting the columns of smoke dotting the horizon and burned-out cars scattered at intersections as the smell of burning rubber and plastic filled the air.
Authorities had moved back into some formerly contested areas, and on Saturday morning, firefighters with the Minneapolis Fire Department poured water onto a still-smoldering gas station in the Hiawatha area as a small crowd watched. No police were present.
Minneapolis awoke Saturday to the smell of burning rubber and plastic after overnight protests over the death of George Floyd. Firefighters poured water onto a still-smoldering gas station in the Hiawatha area. Saturday, May 30, 2020
Over on Lake Street at Columbus Avenue, members of the Minnesota National Guard controlled access to the streets, their Humvees and trucks blocking the road as firefighters and public works officials tried to shut off leaking gas lines and clear rubble from the road.
Because some areas lost power, drivers collided yesterday when speeding through stoplights that weren’t working, and their abandoned crashed cars were then set ablaze. Broken glass from shattered windows and bus stops crunched underfoot.
“This is sad. It’s very emotional right now. I just had to come down and see it,” said Brian Ledin, 58, who lives in a nearby suburb but was born in the area, as smoke rose from an O’Reilly Auto Parts store and CenterPoint energy workers searched for broken gas lines.
Wearing face masks, Anton Reuter and Beno Boda, both 17, picked up trash strewn in the street.
The two, who live nearby, said they had heard reports that troublemakers from outside downtown Minneapolis have been flooding into the area last night causing damage. They wanted people to know that those who live here care about this neighborhood.
“It’s not going to get better waiting on the government,” Boda said.
Further east along Lake, a looted Walgreens billowed smoke into the air around 7:30 a.m. as bystanders recorded on their phones. Anxious residents grabbed a garden hose and buckets to wet down the sides and roofs of adjacent homes, desperately hoping to protect them from the burning embers lofted into the air.
“The people who live here knew things were going to be bad last night so they went to a hotel. We’re just trying to protect their house,” said neighbor Deb McKinley, 54, as smoke filled the sky above and water dribbled from a garden hose clutched in her dirty hands.
Firefighters and a Minneapolis police officer arrived shortly before 8 a.m., quickly dousing the flames burning behind cinder-block walls spray painted with graffiti calling for authorities to be sexually assaulted.