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May 29, 2020 10:30 AM Press Conference Transcript

5/29/2020 5:49:31 PM

Video source: TPT Twin Cities PBS Facebook Live (May 29, 2020, 10:30 AM)

Governor Walz >> Good morning, everyone. This has obviously been the most difficult week in Minnesota in recent history and maybe in our entire history. Our community, especially our Black community, is hurting beyond words. Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fires still smolder in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish, unheard. Much like we failed to hear George Floyd as he pleaded for his life as the world watched, by people sworn to protect him, his community, our state. Philando Castile silenced, unheard. So many other friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, senselessly died in our street. Their voices went unheard. Now generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world. The world is watching. One of the first people I called after seeing the video was Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother. We’ve become friends since the killing of Philando. For those watching today, who aren’t familiar, Philando died in front of his loved one and his child and left them behind and left behind a grieving mother who has become an advocate for justice, an advocate for reform, but more importantly, an advocate for kindness and decency. When I talked about Valerie, she said, “First and foremost, seek justice, seek fairness and reach out and show kindness.” What the world saw last night was not that. What the world has witnessed since the killing of George Floyd on Monday has been a visceral pain, a community trying to understand who we are and where we go from here.  I’m joined today by Attorney General Ellison, by Major General Jon Jensen, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard, Colonel Langer of the Minnesota State Patrol, and Commissioner John Harrington. I spoke this morning with Reverend Jackson, who much like Valerie, said a prayer for our state, said a prayer for over those grieving, said a prayer for peace, and then also said something very important. “This is the moment where we start. But every time we get to this place, we never start the process to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” That commitment amongst leaders in our community, watching this happen across the United States, watching another name, be added, and for those of us who are old enough to Rodney King, to Mike Brown, and unfortunately now we’ve added George Floyd.  The situation on the ground doesn’t allow us, at this time, to tackle those issues. The very assets in our community, our libraries, our businesses, those nonprofits and government entities, our light rail system, are all shut down from this. We have to restore order to our society before we can start addressing the issues, before we turn back to where we should be spending our energy, making sure that justice is served, justice is served swiftly, and that we learned something from what George Floyd gave on Monday. Now I want to just be very clear, and I’m going to have the team talk about what transitioned last night when the state assumed responsibility over the security near the third precinct, where the state secured critical assets ,and where the plan going forward to ensure that tonight our buildings do not burn, our citizens are secure, and that space that we’re going to create allows us to get back to the conversation of serving justice and making sure that we’re not adding to that list of unheard names. I want to be very clear and speak to that community. The very tools that we need to use to get control, to make sure that buildings aren’t burned and the rule of law collapses are those very institutional tools that have led to that grief and pain. I understand clearly there is no trust in many of our communities. The differentiation between the Minneapolis Police Department that we witnessed losing trust of those they’re there to serve is very difficult for people to make for those standing up here with me. I understand that. I will not patronize you, as a white man, without living those lived experiences of how very difficult that is. But I’m asking you to help us. Help us use humane way to get the streets to a place where we can restore the justice so that those that are expressing rage and anger and demanding justice are heard, not those who throw fire bombs into businesses that our communities of colors have worked so hard to build back up areas that were blighted at one time and are thriving because of their entrepreneurship and their hard work. A library in an area where our children, as we know, are institutionally put behind and the achievement gap for our communities of color is a shame on this state that we continue to admire by talking about and don’t repair it. That tool to help with that burned last night. I want to just call out very, very clearly, as we put a presence on the street to restore order, it is to open that space, to seek justice and heal what happened. I will not in any way, not acknowledge that there’s going to be that pain. But my first and foremost responsibility to the state of Minnesota is the safety and security of all citizens. We cannot have the looting and the recklessness that went on. We can not have it because we can’t function as a society. I refuse to have it take away the attention of the stain that we need to be working on is what happened with those fundamental institutional racism that allows a man to be held down in broad daylight.  Thank God a young person had a camera to video it, because there’s not a person here or listening today that wonders how many times that camera’s not there. These are tough questions. These are things that have been brewing in this country for 400 years. We have people out there putting themselves on the line to try and put out fires and our firefighters that are under attack. Those are the things I’m asking you. Help me restore that order. We will do that under state leadership and state guidance. You will hear directly from them of once that decision was made around 12:15 last night. That first mission was executed around 3:45 at the Third Precinct. We will see a difference. I’m asking you and you’ll hear from them to talk about this. I also want to think about what happens when we don’t have that. People who are concerned about that police presence, of an overly armed camp in their neighborhoods that is not seen in communities where children of people who look like me, run to the police, others have to run from. I understand that that’s out there. But last night I got a call from a friend and a dedicated public servant, Senator Torres Ray called in her district. It was on fire. There weren’t any police there, there weren’t any firefighters. There was no social control. Her constituents were locked in their house wondering what they were going to do. That is an abject failure that cannot happen. We must restore that order to that. Senator Torres Ray has fought her whole life on these issues of inequities and making sure that people’s voices are lifted up. But what she understands is none of us can lift those voices, none of us can tackle these problems if anarchy rains on the street. I also want to address an issue and this one is on me and I will own it. Earlier this morning when this mission was carried out under my direction to re-secure the Third Precinct, to do so in a manner which I am proud of how it was executed by this team, no injuries and no loss of life, a re-establishment to put the fires out for those businesses. A CNN reporter and crew was arrested by the State Patrol. A few minutes after hearing that, I was on a call with CNN president Jeff Zucker who demanded to know what happened. I take full responsibility. There is absolutely no reason something like this should happen. Calls were made immediately. This is a very public apology to that team. It should not happen. I want to be clear for those of you listening. I think our Minnesota reporters know this. I am a teacher by trade. I have spent my time as Governor highlighting the need to be as transparent as possible and have the press here. I failed you last night in that. It does not escape me that we are here on the catalyst that lit this spark by what happened with a police detainment of George Floyd. The idea that a reporter would have been taken while another police action was in play is inexcusable. So to CNN, to the CNN team, to the journalists here, this is about having a plan. That’s what these folks are going to talk about. This is about having an aggressive approach to understanding what the community needs and not coming in heavy handed with them, but to create space where the story can be told. In a situation like this, even if you’re clearing an area, we have got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism to tell the story. The issue here is trust. The community that’s down there that’s terrorized by this, if they see a reporter being arrested, their assumption is it’s because something’s going to happen that they don’t want to be seen. That is unacceptable. We will continue to strive to make sure that that accessibility is maintained, that not only that, the protection and security and safety of the journalists covering this is a top priority. Not because it’s a nice thing to do, because it is a key component of how we fix this. Sunshine, disinfectant, and seeing what’s happening has to be done. Again, I appreciate President Zucker’s call. I appreciate his understanding of the situation that he was rightfully incredibly angry. That falls squarely on me. That apology has been issued. I think going forward, to make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s time for us to clean our streets. It’s time for us to execute today in a way that shows respect and dignity to communities. I’m going to ask for a lot of help today of those folks who want to see it. It is my expectation that justice for the officers involved in this will be swift, that it will come in a timely manner, that it will be fair. That is what we’ve asked for. I have been in contact with Hennepin County Attorney. I am confident that those very things I just said will happen. We will continue at the BCA to do a fair, a full, and a swift gathering of all of the evidence involved. But I would reiterate again, for so many of us, not all of that’s done in every other case where all of that evidence is gathered before. I would ask that the swift justice be carried out. Minnesotans, your pain is real. The chapter that’s been written this week is one of our darkest chapters. We can choose a few things. We can choose to try and get past this. We can choose to put a force out there and stop things from happening. We can hope that in the midst of COVID-19 or something else, it passes by and we don’t have to turn that mirror to look at the harsh reality of those underline gaps, whether it be healthcare disparities, whether it be educational disparities in our communities of color, whether it be policing disparities in our community of color, whether it be wealth acquisition in our communities of color, are all very real. We pride ourselves on a state of openness. We pride ourselves on a state of being friendly. I’ve talked a lot about One MN. That wasn’t on display last night. I don’t naively think everything heals and you come to the forefront and you say, “It’ll be better.” This is a community that demands and should expect more than words. They should expect results. Lieutenant Governor Flanagan and I have tried to make equity the center of everything we’ve done. But obviously, in Minneapolis on Monday night, there wasn’t a lot of equity for George Floyd. His family is probably wondering where the One MN is for them. That’s on us, us as Minnesotans, us as the Governor and the team that works with me to put the things in order to establish order in our streets, to establish and rebuild trust in our communities, to lift those voices up, to be heard, not pleading for their lives, but demanding the changes necessary so no one else has put into that position. I would like at this time to turn it over to Minnesota’s Attorney General, Keith Ellison.  

Attorney General Ellison >> Governor, thank you. Martin Luther King said many years ago that riot is the way that the unheard get heard. He didn’t condone it, but he said to the nation as a person who always protested peacefully, that don’t just dismiss that and ignore it and relegate it to just criminality and bad behavior. Actually ask yourself what’s going on there. Is it something that we as a society absolutely must pay attention to? I think we must pay attention to it. I’d like everyone to recognize the fact that the National Guard, just a week ago, was administering COVID-19 tests to help people. To help people. The presence you see on the street, don’t react to them the way you might react to the Minneapolis Police Department. It’s not the same group. They have different leadership, different authority. Their job is to try to bring peace and calm back again. Please remember that this is not the group that you associate with unfair conduct. But it’s a group that in fact, just a week ago, was trying to make sure that Minnesotans could survive and thrive and live, because we are still in the middle of a pandemic. It is that sense of service where they get involved when it comes to natural disasters, storms, floods, rains, diseases. Now they had to restore order on the streets. I hope that the community who is protesting will protest peacefully, but not see this as another occupation by another military force. It really is … make sure that there’s calm and peace and that everybody can operate peacefully. Please accept it as that. I’m asking that of our community. It is essential, and I’ve said this before, everybody keeps asking the question, “When, when, when, when, when.” This is a perfectly legitimate question. It is important to know that under Minnesota statutes, the primary jurisdiction for criminal prosecution is with the County Attorney in which the offense occurred. I believe that the message has been sent and received, that the wheels of justice must turn swiftly, not unjustly, expeditiously, thoroughly, fairly, but swiftly. It is important that people have confidence that accountability, no matter who you may be, is how we live in Minnesota. Let me also say that this prosecution, this investigation, this criminal process is important as it is, and it is. The whole country and the whole world’s looking at it, cannot solve the problem, as the governor so eloquently said. Events like this start and they come to a conclusion, but we never start the process of real reform. I will submit to you that myself and Commissioner Harrington, under the leadership of the Governor, have already started a process on the working group on preventing and reducing deadly force encounters with the police. We have a report that we want attention from the legislature and the entire community on, to focus on that, so that we can really get to the bottom of this when it comes to issues of use of force, when it comes to officer wellness, when it comes to community healing and a whole … training issues, all kinds of things that bear on this issue. It’s not just those things. I believe that the real work of our working group is the implementation of this. That really begins in earnest now and is more important now, I think, than ever. I just want to, as I conclude my remarks, I want to say that we have to have a situation where Lake Street, a precious jewel of our state, is a place where Minnesotans can walk again, where businesses can be safe again. But I want to be clear that if the message was, “This situation with Mr. Floyd is intolerable, absolutely unacceptable, and must change.” That message has been sent and received as well. The Governor myself, the Lieutenant Governor, all of us are committed to that longterm change. I can tell you that I spoke with many legislators who feel the exact same way. People in the philanthropic community feel the exact same way. I think we’re going to do some real changing. We’re not just going to fix the windows and sweep up the glass. We’re going to fix a broken, shattered society that leaves so many people behind, based on their historical legacy of being in bondage and servitude, then second class citizenship, and now fraught with disparities, from everything from incarceration to housing, to wages, to everything else. With that, I want to hand it over to General Jensen, Major General Jensen, who will further elaborate. Thank you very much.

Major General Jensen >> Good morning. I’m Major General Jon Jensen. I’m the Adjutant General of the Minnesota Army National Guard and have been the Adjutant General since November of 2017. What I’m going to describe this morning very quickly is the actions of the Minnesota National Guard since we were mobilized under Governor Walz’s executive order. Like many Minnesotans, I woke up yesterday morning to the news that the Minneapolis mayor had requested National Guard Support. The only difference was I opened up my phone and there was a text from Commissioner Harrington. It wasn’t the newspaper or the morning news had notified me of that. Immediately, yesterday morning, made contact with the Commissioner. We began planning on the potential employment of the Minnesota National Guard in support- On the potential employment of the Minnesota National Guard in support of Minneapolis. For those of you that may not understand how emergency management works in Minnesota, I’m just going to take a quick moment and explain that. In Minnesota, county emergency management coordinators, where the mayors of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and Duluth may request National Guard support for the state EOC. So in accordance with that, Minneapolis mayor, Mayor Frey, made that request to the Minnesota National Guard. What traditionally comes with a request though is a layout of capability needed and exactly the problem that’s trying to be solved. Typically, the request for the guard and that type of information come at the same time. Sometimes it lags. So when it lags, what we do is we begin preparing for an unknown mission. But in this case, we sort of knew what we might be doing as it related to civil disturbance in Minneapolis. But it’s very important that we know exactly what we’re being asked to do so we make sure that we have the right equipment, we mobilize the right number of soldiers and the right number of soldiers and airmen to support those soldiers that are going to conduct the mission. That element was lacking. But with the Governor’s decision to allow me to continue to plan, we began notifying soldiers early yesterday morning of a pending mission. Once we notified our soldiers, again with the Governor’s verbal approval, we began mustering our soldiers and moving them into the Metro area, knowing that the most likely probability of employment was going to be Minneapolis. As we met as a senior team yesterday afternoon, the one topic that continued to be discussed was the lack of clarity and the lack of a mission and a description of what exactly the Minnesota National Guard needed to do. My concern to the Governor was twofold. One, I didn’t know what special equipment I might need to accomplish the mission. And two, I was very concerned about being asked to move to an unfamiliar area of Minneapolis under the cover of darkness. I wanted to get out when it was still daylight, where my soldiers and my airmen could become familiar with their terrain and familiar with their mission. We never got such mission assignment. We never got such mission description. Yesterday, we performed four missions in support of the Governor’s executive order. The first mission came from the Governor directly. That came when we were notified of an immediate and pending threat at the State Capitol. My immediate advice to the Governor was to assign that mission to the Minnesota National Guard, and he agreed with one kind of caveat, and that is the State Patrol also wanted to support that mission. So in cooperation with the State Patrol, we began that mission. The second and third mission came together. It came from St. Paul specifically. It was to provide security of the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The key part of that security was to ensure that St. Paul police officers were not required to secure those facilities and they were therefore relieved of that duty and able to respond throughout the city of St. Paul throughout the day. And then the last mission we did receive yesterday evening was an escort mission for the Minneapolis Fire Department. The concept of the operations that we would move, link up with the Minneapolis Police Department, and as they went into unsecure and dangerous areas that we would secure the area so they could perform their lifesaving and property saving missions. And we continued to do those missions through the evening. As the Governor indicated, about quarter after midnight this morning, the Governor authorized a law and order mission into the third precinct. What we would call in the military, a clear and security mission. So under the leadership of the State Patrol and the Department of Public Safety, the Minnesota National Guard was assigned a task and a mission in support of the State Patrol. We would follow the State Patrol and we would help secure the area that they cleared. Our soldiers remained in that area as I speak now, still on that mission, still securing that location. So people and [inaudible 00:25:56] can come in and begin the clean up of that area. Now we also have picked up one other mission with the City of Minneapolis. I won’t cover the exact details, but it’s ongoing right now with the Minneapolis Police Department. And I’m very proud of the relationship between the Minnesota National Guard and the Minneapolis Police Department, it goes back to Super Bowl 52 just two years ago. Chief Rondo and I worked together during that Super Bowl. So we have had opportunities to serve together, and I have a lot of respect for him. We will continue to operate in Minneapolis until such time that the Governor relieves us of that mission. And we will do so in support of the Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota State Patrol. So that’s just a little bit of background of what the Minnesota National Guard did since yesterday morning when we were first notified a possible deployment, through the deployment and through our mission set last night, and then early this morning. My recommendation this morning to the Governor was that I continue to do the State Capitol mission and that I continue to do the mission in support of the Minneapolis Fire Department. I believe both of those are very critical mission, both to the state and to Minneapolis. And then we’ll conduct follow on missions again in support of the Minnesota State Patrol and the Department of Public Safety. So at this time, I’d like to introduce the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Commissioner John Harrington.

Commissioner Harrington:  Morning My name is John Harrington. I’m the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. Governor Walz tasked me to prepare options and capacities and capabilities to respond to the civil unrest protests, but more importantly and really more directly, to the unlawful behavior of the arsonist, the thieves, the burglars, the vandals who were tearing apart the city of Minneapolis. I want that made clear that that’s I think a clear line of demarcation that we were operating under because it is fundamental to the Department of Public Safety, it is fundamental to the State Patrol that we take an oath to support the constitution, and that we believe that our work is absolutely essential to allow everyone’s First Amendment right to have their voices heard. We were not deployed and we have not been deployed and we will not be deployed to stifle free speech. But we will not and cannot allow unlawful dangerous behavior to continue. I am particularly proud of our relationship with both the Minnesota National Guard. Commissioner Strommen from the Department of Natural Resources and Colonel Langer who works for the Department of Public Safety is a Colonel for the Minnesota State Patrol. We called and they came. And literally it was that it doesn’t make it much more complicated than that. I said, “I’m going to need you, and I’m going to need you here in the city. And I may need you for two or three days. And I may need you longer than that. And I can’t tell you what I’m going to need you to do yet, but I know I need you.” And they came. They began preparing readiness to be able to move folks from all over the state of Minnesota, literally from miles and miles away, to come to the Metro area to be prepared to help us keep the peace. Over the course of the day I met with my counterparts in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Chief Arradondo and Chief Axtell, to talk about what missions they needed the state to help them fulfill. The Department of Public Safety at that point was calling to say, “We are here to support you. We are your partners. Tell us what you need and we will backfill, we will fill in the gaps. You tell us what you need for resources, and we will help you get it.” And we did get some very specific missions and in other cases, we got no real mission at all. And in the absence of a real mission, we began to identify where the critical needs were. We tasked the State Patrol, we tasked DNR, we tasked the Minnesota National Guard to meet specific missions that we were requested to do. But we also tasked them with being flexible because we knew that if things continued to devolve, that we might need to pivot and we might need to shift from a static post of guarding critical infrastructure to a fast moving operational approach of restoring order. About midnight last night, I was party to a call where that pivot had to be made. Where the mayor of Minneapolis called and said they had no more resources and they were not able to meet the public safety needs and control the behaviors that were occurring on Lake Street. They had lost the third precinct. There was concerns about a gas main, and there was concerns about continued looting and fires burning throughout the city of Minneapolis. And different than our first night, I had comparable concerns of looting and fires being set in the city of St. Paul, and so we had to divide our resources to meet the needs of both of the Twin Cities. The task the Governor gave me was pretty simple, actually. It was to pull together a team that could go in, keep the peace, protect people, protect them, protect their safety, protect their lives, protect their liberty. And to protect property that was being burned up literally every minute that we delayed. The Hennepin County Sheriff was one of my first calls and Sheriff Hutchinson immediately moved into action to give us support. We already had DNR, we already had State Patrol, we already had Minnesota National Guard. We had it available, but we hadn’t tasked them with what we needed to do yet and we had to create a plan. The U of M Police Chief, Matt Clark, offered support. Eddie Frizell, the Chief of Police for Metro Transit offered support. And with that team together, we put together a 250 ballpark cadre team to go in and restore order on Lake Street. We created a mission. It was very specific. I am a mission driven person. We talked about the fact that we were going to be respectful of people’s rights, that we were going to keep the peace and make people safe. And that we were going to follow our training and protocols by making a public announcement that they needed to clear the streets, and that if they didn’t clear the streets arrests were eminent. We made those announcements. We made those announcements repeatedly so that no one would be confused about what our intent was or what we were there to do. And then having made our announcements, we began to move to clear those streets. I will tell you that the vast majority of the great people of Minnesota and the great people of Minneapolis who are still having their guts ripped out about the Lloyd murder, and we’ll call it a murder, that’s what it looked like to me. I don’t want to prejudice this from a criminal perspective and I’m just calling it what I see at that point. They weren’t the people that were out there on the streets at three o’clock in the morning when we arrived on Lake Street. The people that were out there on Lake Street at three o’clock in the morning weren’t the good people in Minnesota and weren’t the good people in Minneapolis. They weren’t the people that wanted to mourn the loss of a friend and a relative and a neighbor. And when they saw the National Guard, Minnesota State Patrol, and this cadre, this team moving down the street, the vast majority of them did what we thought they would do. They left. There were a few that decided not to leave. That was a choice that they get to make, but we had advised them what that choice would result in. And we took action to respectfully and carefully take folks into custody as was necessary. And it was a very limited and very structured and extremely disciplined approach to making those arrests. I’m very proud of the fact that despite what you’ve seen over the last few days of gas and canisters and foggers, almost no chemical agent was necessary to be used last night. We did it the old fashioned way. Command presence, a uniform presence, and a clear intent to keep the peace, restore order, and to keep people safe. My task today is a little different. Having accomplished that mission, and I think we’ve secured those streets, and I appreciate the fact that I right now got National Guard folks still holding that ground that we took last night. We need to keep that ground and we need to prepare for what may come today. Our task today is we’re bringing together a unified command of Metro area police departments, Sheriff’s departments, and other law enforcement jurisdictions and other public safety entities into a multi-agency command center where we will create a plan that will keep the peace, maintain the peace, and prevent further lawless behavior in the city of Minneapolis, in the city of St. Paul, and in the surrounding suburbs. We’re going to do this the right way. We’re going to do it with full knowledge that our oath is to serve the State of Minnesota, to serve the communities and to protect them. We are fully confident that we can do that mission and that we can do it while still ensuring that the constitutional rights of those who need to have their voices heard and who need to freely assemble can be protected. I can tell you that no one could have heard Mr. Lloyd’s voice in the chaos of the screaming and the shouting and the fires at one o’clock in the morning on Lake Street. My job is to make sure that tonight that the community is safe and that our team is ready and prepared to keep it safe. With that I am very pleased to introduce the Colonel of the Minnesota State Patrol. Hello Matt Langer.

Chief Langer >> Thank you, Commissioner. My name is Matt Langer and I have the honor and privilege of serving as Chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. I don’t need to rehash what the Commissioner went through in terms of the detail that he provided on the role of the Minnesota State Patrol as it pertains to the city of Minneapolis this week. I was thinking about what to say about this week and difficult is the first word that comes to mind. And it doesn’t seem to represent everything that has occurred this week well enough, but it certainly represents the challenges that the Minnesota State Patrol has faced the last couple of nights as we have worked hard to combat the lawlessness, the dangerous behavior, and the criminal activity that has occurred both in the city of Minneapolis and other places. Let’s speak specifically to last night, because as you’ve heard shortly after midnight, between midnight and 1:00 AM, Governor Walz asked the State Patrol to lead an event in the City of Minneapolis to quell the unrest that was occurring in and around the third precinct. There were many challenges in that area. One of the main challenges in that area was that there were fires set and the Minneapolis Fire Department was unable to get there and extinguish those fires because they were shelled by those that were demonstrating and choosing to make life difficult for everyone who was trying to improve the condition. As the commissioner explained, we assembled a team, both with the State Patrol, the DNR, the University of Minnesota, Transit PD, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and the National Guard. And we assembled that team quickly, swiftly, strategically, and we descended into the City of Minneapolis with the one goal in mind to as safely and quickly as possible recover the ground that had been lost to lawless activity and make it safe again. And then restore order, clean the area, and get it presentable so that we can move into the future tonight and beyond with a much different picture of what it means to be a resident, citizen, and your ability to demonstrate peacefully. That’s the mission that we took on. That’s what we did overnight. It was difficult, dangerous work for everyone involved. The people that are demonstrating, those that are caught in the middle a demonstration without the desire to demonstrate, and the first responders that are there trying to do good work. We had a few troopers that suffered minor injuries. I’m thankful they’re only minor. They stayed on the line and continued their good work because we needed every single one of them to do this job. We remain ready. We’re there today with the National Guard. We’re doing our best to hold that ground well and to make sure that we restore order, clean that spot up to the better than it was before, and to continue our efforts to make sure that public safety is of paramount concern as we move forward, both tonight and into the future. And then work together to restore order across the entire city of Minneapolis. Just as a side note, we had a couple of missions other places last night. Of course, our responsibility at the State Capitol. And we also assisted the city of St. Paul with some lawless behavior that was occurring on University Avenue with some of our mobile response team assets. One thing I’ll note is that we have troopers in the metropolitan area from all across the State of Minnesota. That was an opportunity that we afforded the Governor to make a staffing boost that is within the purview of the executive branch and within the ability of the State Patrol to do on very short notice. Now, my hats off to those troopers that responded, those DNR officers that responded from all across the State of Minnesota, come for an unknown period of time and to work very, very hard to make Minnesota what we believe it should be, a safe place for everybody. Thank you.

Governor Walz >> I would note before we take questions, and we’ll try and make sure we answer every one or as many as you need to ask, I would note to the reporters here in Minnesota, it was about three weeks ago I stood in front of you and as we passed 500 deaths by COVID-19, and said that on about the 29th of May, we would pass 1000. That will happen today. So in the midst of this pandemic, we are still working that. We believe, again, numbers are down. ICU bed… We believe again, numbers are down, ICU bed capacity is stable and we are doing everything we can. And as you heard from the folks speaking, the vast majority of people out there who are expressing their First Amendment rights and the rage over what happened to George Floyd were wearing masks and were trying their best to social distance and not touch things. I would, before I go to questions, note that the desire to get back to normal is so overwhelming for everyone. When so many in Minnesota would said, “What else could happen?” We’ve witnessed this, but I think it’s an important time to pause about that. The problem is for so many of us thinking that normal is where we want to go. Normal was not working for many communities. Normal was not working for George Floyd pre-COVID-19. It’s certainly not working now. And so I think as you heard the Attorney General talk about, that we’re trying to look at, do use this as a point and not just rhetorically, but a point to make those changes. With that, Mary we’ll start.

Mary (reporter) >> What about the public? The public did not see you, hear you, you did not address the public in the last few nights.

Governor Walz >> I certainly don’t think it’s important to be on TV. I think what you expected me to do is to be there, is we were in a support role as state law shows. And once it became apparent to me that the city of Minneapolis would not be able to complete that, I was directing the state to take that over. This is my responsibility.

Reporter >> (unintelligible) over your plan?

Governor Walz >> Well, I think obviously if you think I didn’t, that’s probably the case as a reporter, but I think in the moment of making sure as those decisions were being made and that we were staying in the lane, that we were asked to support this and as it deteriorated, it was at 12:05. There was a decision last night that we made is to come in front of you at that time, because that was the transition point, because what you’re seeing now is the state is the lead element now, starting at 12:05 last night, and those first missions that were carried out. So I think for many of you as you know, I try and make myself as available as possible. I think it was important for me to be getting the data and the feedback, I was watching what you were seeing, and to be quite candid when the 3rd Precinct was abandoned, it seemed at that point in time that that was the time to move. 

Reporter >> Were you in the residence? Did you evacuate? Where were you?

Governor Walz >> No. I stayed in the residence. I have all the electronic tools and we were on all night. And as I said, we were taking calls and adjusting and I was able to track as the situation evolved on going down. There was a dangerous task that I tasked the State Patrol and the National Guard to go down and take that. Those of you who are watching that as I was, as the lawlessness was burning down the 3rd Precinct or whatever, that can’t be allowed to happen. It took a little while to plan this, to get going, but that’s where I was at to make sure it was executed.

Reporter >> Governor Walz. There were millions of Americans and Minnesotans certainly watching on their TV screens as this unfolded last night. There was almost a complete lack of visibility of local police, state police, National Guard, after much fanfare about how the National Guard was coming in. People watched buildings burn, public and private. How could there not have been a clear mission for the National Guard when they were called in and you knew things were going to happen last night?

Governor Walz >> Yeah, I will let my leadership come back up there. You’re absolutely right. And I think that speaks to itself that by shortly after 10 o’clock, it’d became apparent that that structure would go. The way this works is is the mayors ask and they take charge and lead on the missions. I’ll let the folks come up here. I see that too. I think the decision they made to not engage. And I want to just be clear, there’s philosophically an argument to be made that an armed presence on the ground in the midst of where we just had a police killing is seen as a catalyst. My point to that was is, we don’t need a catalyst, it’s already burning. And so this is trying to strike that balance. And so I am in total agreement with that. You will not see that tonight. There will be no lack of leadership and there will be no lack of response on the table.

Reporter >> follow up. Should there have been a National Guard presence on every corner in those areas last night as a deterrent, as opposed to having them come in?

Governor Walz >> I’ll answer this one. Potentially. But the decision on that as it’s made from the city and on this one, I think I would agree with them. We saw the first night, decisions were made. Up until about 8:30 last evening, it appeared that things were relatively peaceful on that. There was a decision during the day, whether did you occupy the entire city and shut it down after those 24 hours? In retrospect, I’m assuming that yes, we would say that, but at the time, and again, we will not know it if proving the negative, would it have simply started that movement faster and would we have seen it moved out of the 3rd Precinct. But yeah, certainly, it’s a valid critique and point. Yes.

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