Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has authorized a “full mobilization” of the state’s National Guard amid increasingly chaotic protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
Seven-hundred Minnesota National Guard members were already on duty as of Friday night, but Walz’s Saturday announcement means more than 1,000 additional soldiers and airmen would be activated, the Minnesota National Guard said in a tweet.
Walz characterized the decision as historic in a Saturday press conference, calling it “an action that has never been taken in the 164-year history of the Minnesota National Guard.”
His announcement came after days of massive anti-police-brutality protests in Minneapolis sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by white police officer Derek Chauvin. Protests in solidarity, and in response to numerous other violent and racist police incidents nationwide, have broken out across the United States, including in Atlanta; New York City; Louisville, Kentucky; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C., among other cities.
Police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters in Minneapolis, and have also used flash-bang grenades to disperse crowds. As the situation has grown more chaotic, some protestors have set fires, burning buildings and otherwise damaging property. At least one person was fatally shot, allegedly by a store owner who believed the man was looting.
Floyd’s excruciating death on Monday was caught on video that showed Chauvin pressing his knee into the neck of Floyd as he repeatedly pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes, with Floyd unresponsive for nearly three. Floyd was handcuffed, unarmed and was being arrested over an allegation of a possibly counterfeit $20 bill. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.