Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said that in the last 48 hours they’ve seen peaceful protests in response to the killing of George Floyd by a police officer morph “to something very different.” The state’s leaders announced early this morning in a press conference that they are mobilizing the largest force that has ever been used in Minnesota to deal with organized groups that are coming in from other places to cause destruction and violence.
According to Minnesota State Commissioner John Harrington, they’ve found ties to some of the people who’ve been arrested to white supremacist groups.
Harrington said in analyzing information on those who have been arrested in the riots, they’re seeing white supremacist organizers putting out calls on social media for members of their groups to go to Minneapolis. They are still working to see which other organizations people are involved with.
“Is this organized crime, an organized cell of terror? Where is the linkage? We are working to figure that out,” Harrington said.
According to the governor, people on the ground are getting direction from some kind of leadership.
Walz said in the press briefing, “Our heart and our solidarity are with the folks that understand what happened Monday night to George Floyd must see justice. But these folks are not them.”
Walz, along with the Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, Commissioner Harrington and the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, Jon Jensen explained that because there are intelligent cells that are using the Floyd protests to cause civil unrest and destruction, they are calling in the entire National Guard of Minnesota.
Gen. Jensen said they’re still working out how many people that will be but at the most it could be up to 13,200 at the low end 2,400 — it will fall between those numbers, he said.
According to Walz, “Over the last 72 hours, these people have brought more destruction and more terror to Minnesota than anybody in our history. That’s who we’re up against.”
Gov. Walz said Agitators Are Trying to ‘Escalate a Situation in Which Deadly Force is Used and the Chaos Ensues’
According to intelligence gathered so far, it is believed that people most involved in the violence in Minneapolis are not from the area. Law enforcement believes 80% are from outside of the state.
They are tracing people who have been arrested to see what groups they’re tied to, and say they’ll release names later.
What officials say they’re seeing is a, “highly evolved and tightly controlled group of folks bent on adapting their tactics to make it as difficult as possible to maintain order,” Walz said.
“This is no longer about protesting. This is no longer about verbal expression. This is about violence and we need to make sure that stops,” Mayor Frey said.
“We will be mobilizing the largest force that has ever been. The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents. They are coming in from outside of the city and the region. The dynamic has changed,” he said.
However, state leaders say they have no illusions that bringing in more forces will deter the “agitators.”
On the contrary, “This is the challenge they were looking for,” said Walz. “The call will go out to join — and the call will be there to try to break the back of civil society and the people trying to put it forward…they will bring everything that they have to this.”
The governor warned that it will be very dangerous in the city tonight.
“They’re trying to escalate a situation in which deadly force is used and then chaos ensues. The folks are very smart. They will adjust, they will adapt,” Walz said.
Authorities Are Asking That Peaceful Protesters Stay Home Saturday Night
While they say they understand that the catalyst for the protests started with Minnesotans who were reeling with pain and anger from the killing of George Floyd, it is not that anymore.
Officials say that peaceful protesters will be used as a cover for those who are working on other levels with malignant intentions.
There is a curfew in place, but officials say they don’t expect those seeking to do harm will follow it. Rather, they hope those who want to stay out of harm’s way will follow the directive so that innocent people are not used by the organized groups and so peaceful protestors aren’t swept up in whatever may ensue. The curfew gives police legal authority to make arrests for breaking the curfew.
“Civil society is not maintained just by laws and the threat of punishment. It’s maintained by a sense of social compact that we share the same values,” Walz said.
For four nights in a row, Minneapolis has had protests. Over the last couple of nights, violence and destruction have escalated. Arson, looting, and destruction have raged through the city.