Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on July 2 asked President Donald Trump to declare a state of disaster due to the “extensive fire damage to public infrastructure caused by civil unrest” following the death of George Floyd.
The governor also requested financial support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help the state rebuild following the extensive damage.
More than 10,000 public safety officials contributed to the effort to restore peace and safety amid the protests, which erupted following the death of Floyd—an unarmed African-American man who died in police custody on May 25.
The often violent and chaotic protests left businesses and vehicles engulfed in flames, including the police department’s Third Precinct building, which was torched and abandoned. The Minnesota National Guard was also mobilized for the first time since World War II in an effort to contain the protests, many of which sparked looting.
In his statement on Thursday, Gov. Walz said more than $15 million of eligible damages related directly to the fires, a preliminary damage assessment found, while nearly 1,500 businesses in the Twin Cities were damaged by vandalism, fire, or looting. Walz estimates the cost of damages currently exceeds $500 million.
“We’re asking our federal partners to step up and help our communities recover,” Governor Walz said in a statement. “We need to come together to ensure Minnesotans who were victims of this destruction have access to critical infrastructure they need so they can go to the grocery store, pick up their medication, and live their lives.
“Together, we will rebuild.”
The federal assistance would reimburse local governments for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and damage to public buildings and equipment, Gov. Walz explained.
Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, Peggy Flanagan, added: “We are committed to helping our communities rebuild, but we can’t do this on our own. While state, tribal, and local budgets are stretched thin by COVID-19, we need everyone to step up, including the federal government, to restore safety and critical infrastructure to our communities.”
Floyd, 46, was arrested by police outside a south Minneapolis grocery store on Memorial Day for alleged fraud.
A citizen’s cellphone video showed an officer, 44-year-old Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe and begged officers not to kill him. He eventually became unresponsive.
All four officers at the scene have since been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and the three other former officers are charged with aiding Chauvin.