President Donald Trump promised military support to Minnesota as rioters broke windows and destroyed property in its largest city, culminating with the burning of a police station after officers abandoned it.
Trump said in a statement that he cannot “stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis.”
Accusing Democratic Mayor Jacob Frey of failing to show leadership, Trump said officials must “bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”
Told of Trump’s tweet, Frey said early Friday: “Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody 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,” he added.
The president in a second missive described rioters and protesters as “THUGS,” alleging they were “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen.”
Trump spoke to Minnesota Gov. 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,” he added.
Around the same time, the Minnesota National Guard began sending more than 500 soldiers to Minneapolis, nearby St. Paul, and surrounding communities.
“Our mission is to protect life, preserve property and the right to peacefully demonstrate. A key objective is to ensure fire departments are able to respond to calls,” it said in a statement.
Members joined police officers Friday in facing off again protesters.
Walz, a Democrat, signed an executive order activating the guard at 4 p.m.
“Our troops are trained to protect life, preserve property and ensure people’s right to peacefully demonstrate,” Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Minnesota National Guard adjutant general, said in a statement.
Floyd died earlier this month while in police custody. A viral video showed a police officer, Derek Chauvin, with a knee on Floyd’s neck as the man complained he couldn’t breathe.
Four officers involved in the situation were fired and are under investigation by local and federal officials. Frey is among those calling for the arrest of Chauvin, but prosecutors said Thursday night that the case will be done “right.”
“Those folks who know me in the African community know I will do my very level best. But I will not rush justice, because justice cannot be rushed,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told reporters.
Democratic Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison told CNN Friday he expects charges against all four officers.
“I hope they’re soon. But that is the prerogative of another prosecuting authority. They are trying to be careful. They are trying to make sure their case is strong and airtight,” Ellison said.
Rioters turned to violence this week in the wake of Floyd’s death, smashing windows, confronting officers, and trashing and looting businesses, many of which are small and locally owned. Video footage showed groups of armed men protecting various businesses from the mayhem.
In a shocking video captured by reporters and others at the scene, Minneapolis police officers abandoned the 3rd Precinct station late Thursday. Rioters soon entered the building, setting fires and destroying equipment.
Just minutes later, the Minnesota National Guard said it was deploying soldiers.
Frey said in a statement that city officials were working with the Minneapolis Fire Department, which was blocked from responding to some fires, including the one at the precinct.
“We all need to work together to ensure the safety of our friends, family, and Minneapolis residents. And right now working together means clearing the area,” he said.
Walz said that Floyd’s death “should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction.”
“As Governor, I will always defend the right to protest,” he added. “It is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.”