In the midst of historic unrest in the streets, including the seizing of a police precinct by protesters, President Donald Trump tweeted that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was a “very weak Radical Left Mayor.”
At an early morning emergency press conference, a reporter asked Frey directly about that comment as well as another tweet from Trump about shooting looters that later earned a “public interest notice” from Twitter, which restricted people’s interactions with it.
“Let me say this,” responded Frey. “Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your fingers at someone else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell. Is this a difficult time period? Yes, but you better be damn sure that we’re going to get through this.” Watch:
During the press conference, Frey was also asked directly by a reporter: “Who’s in charge?” He was also challenged on why the city evacuated its 3rd police precinct, which was then breached by protesters who set it on fire. Frey spent most of the press conference explaining his decision to abandon the precinct.
“There were imminent threats to both officers and the public. The danger became necessary and I made a decision to evacuate the 3rd Precinct,” said Frey.
“The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone, and we will continue to patrol the 3rd Precinct entirely. We will continue to do our jobs in that area, and, you know, brick and mortar is not as important as life.”
Officer Derek Chauvin has now been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with George Floyd’s death. You can read more about that here.
Here’s what you need to know:
The President Urged Frey to ‘Get His Act Together’ or He Will Send in the Military
Trump tweeted, “I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right. These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
Twitter then announced that it had “placed a public interest notice on this Tweet from @realdonaldtrump.”
“This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today,” Twitter wrote, adding:
We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance. As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.
Trump and Frey have a longstanding feud. In 2019, when Trump said he was coming to Minneapolis for a rally, Frey responded by saying that the “entire city will stand not behind the President, but behind the communities and people who continue to make our city — and this country — great. … While there is no legal mechanism to prevent the president from visiting, his message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis,” according to Vox.
In October 2019, Trump tweeted this about Frey: “Radical Left Dem Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, is doing everything possible to stifle Free Speech despite a record sell-out crowd at the Target Center. Presidents Clinton and Obama paid almost nothing! The Minneapolis Police have been incredible.”
At least 170 businesses were damaged or looted in the city, authorities said, as the unrest grew.
The mayor said Minneapolis officials had received reports of many “attempting to get into the 3rd Precinct.”
A reporter asked Frey, “What’s your response to President Trump’s tweets saying that looters should be shot?”
Frey shook his head and said “no I have not” when asked if he’d seen the president’s tweets.
Asked what the plan was for “clearing the streets,” and asked directly, “Who’s in charge right now in this city?” by a reporter, Frey responded:
There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city. I understand that our entire city recognizes that. What we have seen over the past several hours and past several nights in terms of looting is unacceptable. Our communities can not and will not tolerate it. These are businesses. These are community institutions that we need. These are banks that people rely on to get cash. Groceries that people rely on to get food. … They are essential to our community, and we need to make sure that they are protected. We are working with our officers right now. We are working with resources provided by the state. We’ve authorized mutual aid. … It was clear as of last night that we needed additional help, and we got that additional help, some from the state, and we are expecting more. We additionally need help from our community. We need to make sure that people are looking out for our city right now.
A reporter said that some people were saying, “Where are the police? The firefighters? The National Guard?”
“As you already know there were more than a few fires that our firefighters had to put out,” responded Frey. “More than a few incidents of looting that our officers had to attend to. We are doing absolutely everything we can to keep the peace. We have officers stationed around the city in several different locations … assistance from the state to protect looting … this is one of the most difficult situations our city has been through.”
He said the police and fire chiefs had his “100% support.”
A reporter asked again, where was the National Guard?
“Many of these questions you’ll want to direct to our chief,” said Frey. He said he’s been working with the state. “Many of the National Guard are being stationed in locations to help prevent some of the looting … banks, grocery stores, pharmacies.”
He was asked if he had offered up the 3rd Precinct as a “healing spot.”
“The decision I made was for the safety of our officers and the safety of the public,” said Frey. “The symbolism of a building can not outweigh the importance of life. It’s a decision that I did not take lightly. I understand the importance of the precinct. But we are able to continue to regroup and provide the same service.”
As situations “started to escalate more and more, as we saw more and more people breach the perimeter … it became obvious to me that safety was at risk, and it became obvious to me that we could take a different route that would better assist both the public as well as the safety of our police officers,” said Frey.
In a short statement posted on their website, Minneapolis police confirmed, “Update on 3rd Police Precinct. Shortly after 10:00 pm tonight, in the interest of the safety of our personnel, the Minneapolis Police Department evacuated the 3rd Precinct of its staff. Protesters forcibly entered the building and have ignited several fires.”
Photos and videos showed the building was taken over and was ablaze. CNN reported that 500 National Guard soldiers are headed to Minneapolis.
Videos from major television stations showed the 3rd Precinct on fire. Photos showed the damage.
A CNN correspondent described the precinct as having no police presence.
Video appeared to show people had made it inside the precinct.
“NSANE FOOTAGE FROM INSIDE POLICE 3RD PRECINCT IN MINNEAPOLIS. RIOTERS HAVE BROKEN IN AND SET ON FIRE,” wrote one social media user, sharing this video: