The Slatest

States Activate National Guard as Minnesota Governor Blames Outsiders for Violence

A protester stands in front of a line of National Guardsmen during a protest sparked by the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A protester stands in front of a line of National Guardsmen during a protest sparked by the death of George Floyd while he was in police custody on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Saturday he would fully mobilize the Minnesota National Guard, as he vowed a show of force to deal with protesters. Other states, including Georgia, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Colorado, said they would also call on their National Guard forces to help law enforcement respond to the demonstrations. Walz insisted that those who had been participating in the violence over the past few days were not interested in the cause that sparked the protest in the first place. “The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.” Even as he vowed stronger action, Walz declined the offer to get the military involved as President Donald Trump said the military was ready to take part. “We could have troops on the ground very quickly if they ever want our military,” Trump said. The president also called on the state to use a heavier hand against protesters. “They have to get tougher, and by being tougher they will be honoring his memory,” Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House. “When I saw the policemen running out of a police station for that police station to be abandoned and taken over, I’ve never seen anything so horrible and stupid in my life.”

Claiming it was “nothing short of a blessing” that no one had been killed in Minnesota, Walz also joined other state officials in blaming much of the violence on people from out of state, claiming 80 percent of those arrested in the Twin Cities were not from Minnesota. “There are detractors. There are white supremacists. There are anarchists,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said Saturday afternoon. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter went further and said all those who were arrested in the city he leads on Friday night were from out of state. “Because we had a relative stillness in St. Paul, we didn’t make an enormous number of arrests, but every single person we arrested last night, I’m told, was from out of state. What we are seeing right now is a group of people who are not from here,” Carter said at a news conference. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also expressed a similar message Saturday. “I want to be very, very clear: The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents,” Frey said Saturday.

Many say things are likely to get worse in Minneapolis and other cities that have seen peaceful demonstrations turn violent. Some who have been watching the protests closely point out that there have been small groups of people, dressed in black and largely white who go to the front lines of the protests and are the ones who most directly confront police. When reporters approach them to try to talk, they are often threatened and sometimes react violently when they are photographed destroying property. Several people on social media also pointed out that many of the people causing the destruction appear to be white. As some pointed out though, the search for a simple narrative may obscure a more complicated truth that there could very well be a variety of different people with distinct ideologies causing the violence.