Minnesota officials say most people who acted violently at protests are not state residents


(CBS News)–Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Saturday that he believed a majority of the people causing destruction during protests over the death of George Floyd in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul came from out of state. According to Walz, officials believe that about 80% of these people are from outside the state. 

“Our best estimate right now that I heard is about 20%, is what we think are Minnesotans, and about 80% are outside,” Walz said at a press conference Saturday. His estimate was echoed by mayors for both cities. 

Protests in Minneapolis continued Saturday for the fifth day over the death of Floyd, who was captured on video pleading for air as a police officer kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed. Four officers have been fired and one, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Protests have erupted in cities nationwide, with some turning violent. 

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said that every person arrested in his city Friday night was from “out of state.” And, after describing the destruction of businesses and community property in his city, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said: “The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents.” 

“They are coming in largely from outside the city, from outside the region, to prey on everything that we have built for the last several decades,” he said.

Walz used words like “domestic terrorism” and “ideological extremists” to describe what they believe are outsiders working to destabilize the community in the wake of tragedy. John Harrington, Commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, said his office is working to identify these people and understand their motivations. 

“We have seen things like white supremacist organizers who have posted things on platforms about coming to Minnesota,” Harrington said. “We are checking to see if the folks that we have made arrests on… are they connected to those platforms?”

In a statement at the Department of Justice on Saturday, Attorney General William Barr said “the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements,” adding that the violence appears to be “planned, organized and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups — far-left extremist groups — using antifa-like tactics.”

“Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” he said. 

Barr also said many people have traveled from outside the state “to promote the violence.” He ended his statement by reiterating that crossing state lines to incite violence is a federal crime. 

Harrington said his office is in the process of building intelligence to “link these folks together, figure out the organizations that created this, and understand how we can go after them legally.”

“We’re going to start releasing who some of these people are,” Walz said. “And then be able to start tracing that history of where they’re at, and what they’re doing on the dark web and how they’re organizing.”

Both Walz and Carter stressed that the anger stemming from Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police is warranted, and shared by them. Carter said the murder, and the violence that followed, has created “one of the most heartbreaking weeks” in Minnesotan and American history.

“Unfortunately, there also those among us who would seek to use this moment — who would seek to use his death as an excuse, as a cover, to agitate for the destruction of those same communities that have been most traumatized by George Floyd’s death,” Carter said. “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.”

Walz said that “with a sensitivity to the legitimate rage and anger that came after what the world witnessed in the murder of George Floyd, and was manifested in a very healthy gathering of community to memorialize that on Tuesday night, was still present to a certain degree on Wednesday, by Thursday it was nearly gone and last night is a mockery of pretending this is about George Floyd’s death, or inequities, or historical traumas to our communities of color.”

He said the people vandalizing the city are not concerned with addressing the inequities that led to Floyd’s death.

“Nothing we do to address those inequities, nothing we do to provide justice to George Floyd and his family… none of those things matter to any of these people who are out there firing upon national guard, burning businesses of our communities, and making intent on disrupting any semblance of civil life,” he said.

First published on May 30, 2020 / 5:39 PM

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