Editor’s note: St. Paul Mayor and Governor Tim Walz on Sunday backed down from their claims on Saturday that 80% of those arrested for looting were from out of state or out of town. They still stressed that “bad actors” from outside the cities played a significant role in the destruction.
(CN) — As Minneapolis underwent a fourth night of protests over the death of George Floyd, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Saturday that most rioters arrested are from outside of the city and sought to take advantage of the chaos.
In a press conference held in the early hours of Saturday morning, Gov. Walz said he is authorizing “full mobilization” of the state’s National Guard, adding 1,000 National Guard to join the 700 already there, calling it “an action that has never been taken in the 164 year history of the Minnesota National Guard.”
“Our goal is to decimate that force as quickly as possible,” Walz said of rioters who looted and burned buildings. “Our cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are under assault.”
Later in the day, Walz said 2,500 guardsmen and women would be activated. He said about 80% of those arrested for looting and vandalism could be outside agitators.
“Our great cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are under assault by people who do not share our values, who do not value life and the work that went into this and are certainly not here to honor George Floyd,” Walz said. “They need to see today that that line will stop and order needs to be restored.”
“Let’s be very clear, the situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” he added.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said most of the arrests made last night were of people from out of state and while “there’s a group of folks that are sad and mourning,” he said “there seems to be another group that are using Mr. Floyd’s death as a cover to create havoc.”
Department of Safety Commissioner John Harrington said they are contact-tracing the arrested and added that an investigation is underway about white nationalist groups posting online to encourage their members to use the protests as a cover to create chaos.
He said some of the 40 arrests made in the Twin Cities Friday night were of people linked to white supremacist groups and organized crime.
“The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said. “They are coming largely from outside the city outside the region to prey on everything we have built.”
On Saturday afternoon, President Donald Trump said military police were ready to deploy to Minneapolis if the governor asked.
“We have our military ready, willing and able, if they ever want to call our military. We can have troops on the ground very quickly,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “They’re using their National Guard right now, as you know.”
While the military is prohibited from acting as domestic law enforcement, the Insurrection Act of 1807 give state officials the ability to call for their help.
Protests have spread across the country this week after a police officer was shown on video pushing his knee into the back of Floyd as Floyd begged to be released and that he couldn’t breathe. He was pronounced dead an hour later.