As the trial of Derek Chauvin – the Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd – comes to a close, tensions continue to rise in Minnesota where hundreds of high school students across the city walked out of class Monday to protest the National Guard presence in the city, shouting, “Go home!”
“High school students walking out and protesting in downtown Minneapolis chant ‘National Guard, go home!’ It’s snowing,” tweeted Lois Beckett, a senior reporter for Guardian US.
The student protesters also sought to stand in solidarity with Daunte Wright, who was shot apparently accidentally during a traffic stop in Minnesota last week.
“Students from [Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists] gather in downtown Saint Paul before marching to the Capitol as students across Minnesota walk out of class to stand in solidarity for [Daunte Wright],” tweeted Guardian reporter Amudalat Ajasa.
About 3,000 National Guard troops are currently deployed in the Minneapolis area amid the trial and ongoing civil unrest, according to CBS 4 Minnesota.
On Thursday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted his support for the National Guard, defending them as “neighbors” following verbal attacks from labor activists.
“Let’s be clear: The brave men and women of the Minnesota National Guard are our neighbors. They’re teachers, health care workers, and business owners who live in communities across our state,” he tweeted. “This is unacceptable. They can’t ‘go home’ — this is their home.”
The governor continued, “Just this year, they ran Minnesota’s nation-leading COVID-19 testing program and stepped in to keep seniors in nursing homes safe. Now they are leading efforts to get Minnesotans vaccinated.”
“As both a veteran of the Guard and Commander-in-Chief, thank you for everything you do.”
The walkout comes one day after California Democrat Representative Maxine Waters encouraged rioters to “get more confrontational” if the Chauvin trial doesn’t produce a guilty verdict.
“If [a guilty verdict] does not happen, then we know, that we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice, but I am very hopeful and I hope that we’re going to get a verdict that will say guilty, guilty, guilty. And if we don’t, we cannot go away,” Waters said.
Waters’ rhetoric was widely condemned by GOP lawmakers, including freshman Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene who announced on Twitter that she would introduce a resolution to expel Waters from Congress.
“Very soon I’ll be introducing a resolution to expel [Maxine Waters] from Congress for her continual incitement of violence on innocent American people,” Greene tweeted. “Rep Waters is a danger to our society.”
When asked about Waters’ comments, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the California Democrat, saying, ““Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement. I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family. They’ve handled this with great dignity.”