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Trump admin denies Minnesota’s request for millions in aid for riot damage

Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and Gov. Tim Walz during budget negotiations in May 2019 in Minneapolis. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune/TNS)
July 19, 2020

The federal government denied Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s July 2 request for the federal government to pay for the damage caused by riots stemming from the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died during his arrest by the Minneapolis police.

Walz had asked President Trump to declare Minnesota a “major disaster” and sought financial aid for the repairs needed from the aftermath of mass looting and numerous fires that were set, according to KSTP. Walz stated that approximately 1,500 businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul suffered $500 million in damages stemming from looting, fires, and vandalism.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that FEMA denied Walz’s request, stating, “After a thorough review of Minnesota’s request for a major disaster declaration from extensive fire damage as a result of civil unrest in late May and early June, it was determined that the impact to public infrastructure is within the capabilities of the local and state governments to recover from. The governor has 30 days to appeal that decision.”

The denial was confirmed by Walz’s spokesman Teddy Tschann, who said Walz was “disappointed.” He added, “As we navigate one of the most difficult periods in our state’s history, we look for support from our federal government to help us through.”

Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer said in a letter to Trump, “If the federal government is expected to assist in the cleanup of these unfortunate weeks, it has an obligation to every American — prior to the release of funding — to fully understand the events which allowed for this level of destruction to occur and ensure it never happens again,” The Washington Examiner reported.

According to The Southwest Minneapolis Patch, “More than 10,000 public safety officials contributed to the effort to restore peace and safety, including the first full mobilization of the Minnesota National Guard since World War II.”

George Floyd was arrested on May 25 and died while being detained with a chokehold maneuver by officer Derek Chauvin. The highly televised event sparked riots that started in Minneapolis but spread quickly across the country.

During the mass riots, Minneapolis police had to evacuate the 3rd Police Precinct station after rioters set it ablaze. Public and private businesses were also burned to the ground after they were looted, including the U.S. Post Office in Minneapolis.

The fire departments were unable to assist due to the mass rioting. Police and the Minnesota National Guard did all they could under the circumstances.

President George H.W. Bush declared Los Angeles a federal disaster in 1992 after riots and within just one month, handed over more than $638 million, the Star Tribune reported.