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MN governor mobilizes full National Guard over rioting for first time since WW2

The Minneapolis Third Police Precinct is set on fire during a third night of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, on Thursday, May 28, 2020. (Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
May 30, 2020

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard units to respond to ongoing rioting following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

The planned deployment would be the first full mobilization of the state’s guard since World War II. Minn. Nat Guard Adjutant Gen. Jon Jensen said about 1,000 guardsmen are ready to deploy and there would be about 1,700 by Saturday afternoon. The full Minnesota National Guard consists of more than 13,000 members, according to the Guard’s 2019 annual report.

Walz said the National Guard deployment would be the largest in the state’s history. One previously sizeable deployment the state had was during the 1960 race riots, and Walz said the new deployment would be three times larger.

“We built this state. We built the North Star. Everything that we believe in, these people are trying to destroy,” Walz said.

“Our great cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are under assault,” Walz said. “The situation in in Minneapolis is now about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great city.”

On Thursday, Walz had deployed 500 Guardsmen, and another 200 on Friday night. Still, the deployment and the 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew implemented in Minneapolis was not enough to quell the violent demonstrations, which persisted and continued to destroy buildings and vehicles.

Walz said officials had previously underestimated the size of the protests, which he noted have appeared to swell due to out of state individuals participating. Walz said approximately 80 percent of protesters were thought to be out-of-state residents, while only 20 percent were estimated to be Minnesota residents.

“I will take responsibility for underestimating the wanton destruction and size of this crowd,” Walz said. “There’s simply more of them than us.”

“The militarization of civilian population is a deep concern,” Walz said. “If you are on the street tonight, it is very clear: you are not with us. You do not share our values. And we will use the full strength of goodness and righteousness to make sure that this ends.”

A tweet from the Minnesota National Guard on Saturday confirmed they would indeed be mobilizing — and were “all in” to do so.

“Minnesota @GovTimWalz has announced the full mobilization of the @MNNationalGuard for the first time since World War II. We are ‘all-in’ to restore order and maintain and keep the peace in Minnesota,” the Guard tweeted.

“More than 1,000 additional Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are activating today. This is in addition to the 700 that were on duty as of late last night. This represents the largest domestic deployment in the Minnesota’s National Guard’s 164-year history,” another tweet from the Guard said.

Protests erupted in cities across the country on Friday night, including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, cities in California, and more. Those protests were condemned by city and state leaders, as well as from President Trump.