State leaders gathered Saturday morning for an hour-long conference to address destruction in the wake of protests following George Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
For four consecutive nights, the Twin Cities and surrounding communities have been set ablaze as protesters, which grew from hundreds to tens of thousands, shifted from peaceful demonstrations to looting and burning of businesses and residential homes.
[Related: Former MPD officer Derek Chauvin charged with murder of George Floyd]
Gov. Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter were among leaders reporting the damage was caused primarily by non-residents looking to incite violence. Walz estimated upwards of 80 percent were from out of state.
“We understand that the catalysts for this was Minnesotans and Minnesota’s inability to deal with inequality, inequities, and quite, honestly, the racism that has persisted. Our hearts and our solidarity are with people who understand what happened Monday night to George Floyd must see justice — but these folks are not them,” said Walz. “Over the last 72 hours, these people have brought more destruction and more terror to Minnesota than anybody in our history.”
Frey said the damage was no longer about protesting a death. “They are coming in largely from outside of this city, from outside of the region, to prey on everything that we have built over the last several decades. The dynamic has changed over the last several days.”
Carter echoed those sentiments. “Every single person we arrested last night was from out of state,” he said. “As I talk to my friends who have been in this movement for a very long time, I hear them say, ‘We don’t know these folks. We don’t know these folks who are agitating. We don’t know these folks who are inciting violence.’”
Carter added those people were using the protests to destroy communities most impacted by Floyd’s death. “Those same communities are being retraumatized right now as our Black-owned barbershops, as our immigrant-owned restaurants, as our local, generational family-owned businesses are damaged and destroyed, night after night. This must stop.”
MN Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said the state is in the process of tracing the organizations and affiliations of those arrested who came to get their “loot on,” he said. “We are in the process of building that information network… and understanding how do we go after them.”
Walz called for peaceful demonstrators to honor the 8 pm curfew in place for the Twin Cities and surrounding areas to help bring order to the city. Those who don’t will be considered to be “aiding and abetting” in the destruction.
Carter also called on communities to stand against the violence at night as they did while helping neighbors clean up the aftermath during the day.
“We must show that that same sense of community and cohesion as we stand forward to say we will not accept the brutal killing of unarmed Black men. We will not accept George Floyd’s death and we will not accept the destruction of our community. Those goals are not in competition, they are not in conflict with one another. They are one and the same.”