May 31, 2020
Governor Tim Walz May 31 Press Conference Transcript on Minneapolis Protests
After a 5th night of protests in Minneapolis and around the country over the death of George Floyd, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a press conference. He talked about the extended Minneapolis & St. Paul curfews and road closures and was joined by Mayor Frey, Mayor Carter, Commissioner Harrington, and others. Read the full press conference here.
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Governor Tim Walz: (02:53)
Good morning, everyone. Good morning, Minnesota. The past week was one of the most difficult and trying weeks in the history of our state. It started with the tragic and senseless murder of George Floyd and it extended through the week of righteous anger being expressed by community leaders and all people of conscience. And continued to deteriorate into civil unrest, and eventually, violence and rioting. This morning in Minnesota the sun came up as it does this time of year, right? Trees are budded out. Flowers are up. Promise of a summer after a long winter is there.
Governor Tim Walz: (03:44)
I want to say thank you to all of the people in Minnesota who protected their neighbors, who took an unprecedented step last night of making sure it created the space that an unprecedented force of our neighbors and our public servants were able to come together, execute the most complex public safety operation in state’s history. They did so in a professional manner. They did so without a single loss of life and minimal property damage. I am grateful to those folks out there. I’m grateful for their protection of Minnesota.
Governor Tim Walz: (04:26)
I want to make note once again that the operational plan and the decision to operate falls squarely with me, and when the order to do so the actions that happen after that are my responsibility. I want to once again extend my deepest apologies to the journalists who were once again in the middle of this situation were inadvertently, but nevertheless, detained. To them personally and to the news organizations and to journalists everywhere, it is unacceptable. I said when it happened the other day when I failed you I have to do better. I continue to need to do and send that message.
Governor Tim Walz: (05:09)
I take full responsibility for that and won’t equivocate. No matter how difficult the environment is, I would just ask folks to know that in restoring public order, and adhering to democratic principles, and having a history of governor of welcoming that openness, it is certainly not our intention nor is it helpful to restoring public order to have that happen. So you can rest assured that we will look back again at what happened, try and make those changes. So I ask you again, that we will continue to dialogue with the media. It’s critically important we do that. It’s critically important that I am able to maintain or restore their trust in the necessity of them being out there to tell the story.
Governor Tim Walz: (05:58)
Yesterday was a day filled with tension. It was a day unlike any other us in Minnesota had seen. The raw emotions were on display. And as I said yesterday, the beautiful expression of solidarity and community that we saw played out by peaceful protesters, by that beautiful tapestry that’s Minnesota, indigenous dancers leading in the middle where the crowd kneeled around in reverence in making sure that justice was served.
Governor Tim Walz: (06:34)
I gathered yesterday with a group of leaders, elected leaders, clergy, moral leaders led with Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, Senators Klobuchar and Smith, and then an array of leaders. If any of you got the opportunity to hear some of those remarks, I said for the first time in quite some time, a weight felt off my heart and was soaring up that what Minnesota could be. And we were there together for dual purpose. The first was to send a message to stay home last night, to stay off the streets, to allow us to execute this so that we wouldn’t have a loss of life and we could restore order.
Governor Tim Walz: (07:16)
But it was very clear that was not the primary message. That message was a means to an end. Each and every one of them did, and what the gift they’ve given us is that sun came up this morning to open up the space for the real conversation. A real understanding that George Floyd was dead and the conditions here in Minnesota contributed to that. And that we needed to deal with that. That space was created by last night’s action to have us deal with the systemic issues that we see exploding across the country.
Governor Tim Walz: (07:47)
Before I was in elected office, I’m a public school teacher by trade. I spent 20 years doing that. One of the things I was most proud of. And I think as Minnesotans, many of you across the world may be getting your first look at who we are, and that’s unfortunate. But it’s real and we’ll take that look. But one of the things at public school which I’m real proud of, our public schools consistently rank at or near the top. We’re a state that extends from the Canadian border. We have lakes so clear and pristine. They’re 40 foot deep and you can see the bottom and drink from them. We have iron ore mining that the steel was used to build this country. We’re a top agriculture producer, we’re home to a higher concentration of Fortune 500 companies than almost anywhere else, and we’re home to the Mayo Clinic.
Governor Tim Walz: (08:40)
We’re innovate, we’re passionate people. And again, back to that statistic. As governor, I like to talk about this in the things that we say. We don’t just rank near the top on educational attainment. We rank near the top on personal incomes, on home ownership, on life expectancies. Things that make this… Oh, and one that came out a while back. We ranked second in a survey of the 50 States, second in happiness behind Hawaii. But if you take a deeper look and peel it back, which this week has peeled back, all of those statistics are true if you’re white. If you’re not, we ranked near the bottom.
Governor Tim Walz: (09:22)
And what this week is showing all of us is those two things can’t operate at the same place. You cannot continue to say you’re a great place to live if your neighbor, because of the color of their skin, doesn’t have that same opportunity. And that will man itself in things that are the small hidden racisms. It’ll manifest itself in a child of color not getting the same opportunities, or a black community not being able to acquire wealth through home ownership because of lending practices. And as we all sudden last week, the ultimate end of that type of behavior is the ability to believe that you can murder a black man in public, and it is an unusual thing that murder charges were brought days later.
Governor Tim Walz: (10:11)
So what I would like to say, and again, I want to thank everyone who participated in our ability to restore trust to our streets. It was incredibly complex. It was incredibly difficult. But that simply gets us back to a place that we were before. And that place is not good enough. That place is not one that will get us the solutions. So I’m going to leave the details of the operation and I will be, of course, answering questions when we’re done to those commanders on the ground who executed this. But it does fall to myself, other elected leaders, community leaders, and others that if we do not get to that systemic problem, eventually this will get us back to a point that led to our communities on fire, our security and safety in question, and a searching for who we are.
Governor Tim Walz: (11:12)
So I could not be more proud of who we are as a state. I could not love this state more. And in doing so that tough love means things have to change. We have got to figure out how to make sure that justice is served. And the groups of people that asked for this, the groups of people that were part of that message with Lieutenant Governor Flannigan leading it in her elegant words as an indigenous woman who understands what that means, of watching Representative Omar on the streets begging people to come home, and receiving a call last night that, to understand how big this was, from Jay Z. Not international performer, but dad, stressing to me that justice to be served. And that as he’s listening and hearing it, that this is a place that wants to do it, that this is a place that does it, but we have to follow through.
Governor Tim Walz: (12:02)
So with that I’m going to transition here to… And again, of the chaos of this week, of tension and frayed nerves, two people that I’m grateful that have been able to weather an emotional rollercoaster with all of us that is unprecedented, Who I’ve leaned to to be candid, and to be able to be in a room to ask and question where things were going, are the mayors of our great cities. Two young leaders with vision, two young leaders who have been talking about that systemic issue since they were elected. It was their platforms to make these changes. And I’m just proud of the way that they have conducted themselves in this with Mayor Carter from Saint Paul. And now, Mayor Frey from the great city of Minneapolis. Mayor.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (12:52)
Governor mentioned just a couple seconds ago this concept of who we are. And in talking about who we are, and in seeing who we are, it’s important to acknowledge both the positives as well as the negatives. For those of you that are seeing Minneapolis for the first time, you saw us at five minutes of our worst followed by a week of great difficulty. However, I also want you to see some of the positives. And last night was sandwiched between a beautiful rally of thousands of people from our native community all rallying around a common cause which is each other, which was diversity, which was everything that we hold dear. It was safe. It was peaceful. It was joyous. There was singing. There was dancing. That is also who we are.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (13:51)
On the other side of that sandwich was the events that we’re now seeing this morning which is people coming out of their homes, walking to their businesses, picking up debris, pulling out a broom, and showing that even with the grave difficulty that we’ve had over the last week, even though the whole world has seen us at our worst, we can still be at our best. I think it’s also right to acknowledge first that no mayor could have ever imagined the scenes that played out yesterday on our streets. Or yesterday’s activity would ever be considered somehow to be more stable than the days that had preceded.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (14:40)
But yesterday, the overarching mission was preservation of life, preservation of property, and restoration of order. To all our neighbors who stayed home and gave our first responders the opportunity to succeed. And I do mean it. They would not have had the opportunity to have any form of success without you staying at home. Every day since Monday, May 25th, when an officer murdered, George Floyd has renewed a collective trauma in our city and in our nation. For our black community, for our young people, for everyone that’s hurting tonight, we are going to keep working.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (15:33)
We’re going to keep working to strive to make sure that the Twin Cities can be better. We know that there’s a lot of work ahead. We know that there’s a whole long way to go. And I’ll just talk briefly about the events of last night which were obviously difficult to watch, but the restoration of order in some form was important. Importantly, we had no…
Mayor Jacob Frey: (16:03)
Importantly, we had no significant fires last night. As you may have seen, just after around 8:30 there were 10 fast strike teams, 10 mobile force units with 100 each, and they were charged with moving people away from the 5th Precinct followed by making arrests, and there were about 25 arrests that were made at the 5th Precinct, and I’ll let the following speakers talk more about this. We’ve got a lot of work to do ahead. We’ve got a whole lot of work to do ahead, and what’s happened to George Floyd is indelibly etched into the soul of Minneapolis, and the action of one, and inaction of three officers have forever changed our city. We must become a better city. We must become a more just city. That is the task ahead of us today, that is the task ahead of us tomorrow, and into the future. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (17:09)
[inaudible 00:17:09] Thank you, mayor.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (17:16)
Yesterday, we asked a big thing of our residents. We asked you to stay home. We asked you to clear the streets to give our police officers and law enforcement professionals the opportunity to reclaim a sense of peace, a sense of calm, a sense of order in our community. At the heart of that request was an invitation. It was an invitation for us to take the anger, to take the grief, to take the trauma, and even the rage that we’ve all experienced over the past week, and decide how we would channel it. We can either channel this energy towards destroying our own communities, towards burning and looting our barbershops, our restaurants, our family owned businesses, the lives and livelihoods that have gone in to all of those institutions, or we can take this energy, and we can channel it towards building a better future. I share the governor and mayor Frey’s sentiments of gratitude and extreme appreciation for those of you who honored that curfew, who stayed home, and gave our law enforcement professionals an opportunity to work. We know that right now is a moment of deep soul searching for our community, and for our nation. Right now, we ought to be focused on the fact that George Floyd should still be alive today. We ought to be focused on the fact that when someone takes one of our lives in such dramatic and gruesome fashion, especially, when it’s as well documented as George Floyd’s murder was, that we ought to have some ability to be confident, to be sure that the people responsible, not just one, but the four people responsible for his death in a democracy as great as ours, that the four people responsible for his death will of course be held to account.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (19:54)
We’ve had a lot of conversations about whether these are insiders or outsiders, whether they’re from in town or out of town. The one thing that’s absolutely clear to me is those folks who would seek to act in a way that during a pandemic would deprive our senior citizens of the local pharmacy they need to go to, to get their life saving medicine, who in the midst of a food shortage would deprive our families of the grocery stores they need to go to, to feed their children, who would deprive in the middle of one of the greatest economic crises in our country’s history our workers from the opportunity to go to work, and to earn a living, and to build, and to go, and participate in our economy. The one thing that is clear to me is those folks are not driven, those actions are not driven by a sense of deep drive for the betterment of our community.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (20:54)
I also want to acknowledge as I have before that, that doesn’t mean there’s not real rage, that doesn’t mean there’s not real anger, and that doesn’t mean that our residents are happy with what happened. We’re not. I don’t know a single police officer. I don’t know a single CEO. I don’t know a single lawyer, accountant or neighbor, community activist who’s happy with what happens, who’s accepting what happened. George Floyd’s killing is unacceptable, and it’s disturbing by itself. In combination with all of the other people, African American people, African American men, who’ve lost their lives unarmed, unaggressive, not just over the past decade as camera phones have become the norm, but over the past decades, and generations, and centuries in our country. That anger is real, and I share it with you.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (22:12)
Today we’re asking our community for peace, but I want to be very clear. We are not asking you for patients, and we are not asking you for pacifism. This is not a time for either of those things. I am not asking you to sit to the side and patiently wait while we slowly and incrementally stem the bloody tide of African American men killed by law enforcement. We’re asking you to take that energy, that energy, which has consumed our country, that energy which is a nuclear energy that could either destroy us, or it could bring us together, and build us up in a way that we have never been together before as a country. We’re asking you to take that energy and use it not to destroy our neighborhoods, but to destroy the historic culture, to destroy the systemic racism, to destroy in specific where this is concerned the laws, the legal precedents, the police union contracts, all of the things that make it so difficult to hold someone accountable when a life like George Floyd’s is so wrongfully taken.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (23:26)
If I had one thing, governor that could stop all of this, that could help ease all of the anger that we felt, it would be something in our history, some historic pattern or fact, or trend that could make us feel confident and secure that the officers involved will be held accountable, that we as a nation are using this as a pivot point to chart a new course for our country. Sadly, we don’t have the historical fact, or the historical trend to show that, but the energy that we’ve seen this week, the passion that we’ve seen this week, the dedication for a better country, and a better future, and a better state, and a better city that we’ve seen this week is that energy, is that tool.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (24:25)
We’re asking you to channel that energy in a way that builds us, in a way that makes us better, in a way that brings us together, and to every single person who’s frustrated, who’s sad, who’s angry, who’s devastated, who wants the world to know that this can never happen again, I say that we’re with you. I thank our law enforcement professionals for serving us so valiantly, our firefighters for serving us so valiantly over the course of a devastating week, working in challenging conditions, sometimes with bottles, sometimes with rocks hurled at them. I know that they have to stand as a part of this work with us as we build this stronger pact, this stronger social compact, and this better future together. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (25:19)
Mr. Harrington. Thank you, mayor.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (25:21)
John Harrington: (25:27)
Good morning. I’m John Harrington, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. We set up for a new operational approach yesterday. We recognize that the group of rioters who had attacked the city of Minneapolis and attacked the city of St. Paul, and attacked the surrounding communities, burning, assaulting, robbing, and looting that their numbers were great, and that they had speed, and a tactical advantage over us in the early days of last week, and so, yesterday Minnesota’s Public Safety Group, chiefs of police, sheriffs, federal law enforcement, intel analysts, fire and EMS, and the Minnesota National Guard all came together to take a different approach to how we were going to keep the peace, which I think is the most fundamental job of any carpet.
John Harrington: (26:46)
I always tell people that I don’t think of myself as a police officer, I think of myself as a peace officer, and that’s what we set out to do. We created a different organizational model at the Multi-Agency Coordination Center, and we briefed that model, and we set out fast moving teams throughout the Twin Cities area to targets that we knew were of high value and high probability of attack. We worked the intel, we worked with community, and I want to emphasize that, is that we work with community to identify where those high value targets would be, and we pre-positioned staff, so that they would be immediately adjacent, and we gave this mandate to them. Get there fast. Speed is of the essence. Stop the violence. Stop the criminal activity. Do not sit and wait for enough resources to get there, to have the perfect plan, get in there, and get it done rapidly.
John Harrington: (28:04)
In addition to that, we set up more traditional mechanisms, mobile field forces. They’re bigger, they’re stronger, but if you were going to confront a large crowd of committed rioters armed, and ready to do damage, we needed to make sure that we had those resources there, and then, I am so terribly grateful for General Jensen’s folks, because they then anchored critical infrastructure, freeing up law enforcement, freeing up peace officers, fire and others, to be able to go out, and be that rapid response force that we needed. That plan was started yesterday at four o’clock, roughly 1600 hours. By 1800 hours our points of contact were in place. We were already receiving information, and we continued our communications throughout the night.
John Harrington: (29:13)
Preliminary data, and that’s all this is at this point, is that by about two o’clock in the morning there were about 25 arrests on the Hennepin County side, and that there were about 30 arrests on the Ramsey County side, but I know that between two o’clock and 0600 hours this morning, it sounds like we have had additional arrests that were made maybe as many as another 40 or 50 arrests that were made, and we all will get that information for you. We did take action as the governor outlined to us to ensure that people’s safety was going to be protected. We did use the curfew effectively. We did not allow the rioters to get set up, and we kept the rioters moving, and we at every opportunity arrested the rioters for violations of the curfew.
John Harrington: (30:11)
And just as importantly, I want people to think about this, a large number of the arrests we made over last night were for weapons violations. We took ER-15s off of people. We took guns off of people. We noted that once again, their tactics had also changed. We noted that we were seeing cars drive through our neighborhoods and through our communities without any licensed plates on them, and with their lights out, and their windows blacked out. Police moved to stop those vehicles, and when they did the drivers and occupants of those vehicles fled on foot. Some were arrested. As in always the case you can’t catch everybody, but when we went back to those cars we found that several of them have been stolen locally, and we found that they were full of rocks and other weapons that were being driven to places, so that more damage and more assaults could take place.
John Harrington: (31:15)
We got innovative last night. One of the missions that the governor gave us was fire suppression. [inaudible 00:31:25] fire suppression is not necessarily, or normally in my wheelhouse, I will admit. We went to the State Fire Marshal, and we went to the DNR who do fire suppression as a regular part of their business, and we got innovative there, and we began using aviation support to support a fire suppression mission. We were able to pull in additional fire companies from the suburbs to help support Minneapolis and St. Paul’s fire. We didn’t need very many of them. We were really very, very fortunate, and I’ll take good luck over everything that most…
John Harrington: (32:03)
I’ll take good luck over most everything, most days. In addition to the fire suppression mission, the last piece of this that I wanted to say is that we also really did work the information mission. And we knew that we were getting tips from community, we got tips, I was on the phone with church leaders, long into the night, with rumors of riots and looting that were coming to their communities. We were able to debunk most of those rumors, but we were also able to alert church leaders. When a set of rumors came that that black churches were going to be attacked, we were able to alert some significant church leaders that this was at least a rumor that we were hearing and that we were working to either confirm or deny that rumor, and that allowed the churches to do what they needed to do to protect their facilities and their places of faith.
John Harrington: (32:59)
Over the night, as I said, we had a significant of arrests. We had one officer that was shot at. The officer was not hit. We arrested the two people that were in the car from which the shot was fired, and we recovered an AR-15 rifle in that particular case. What I will say in conclusion is, this was a team effort. This was the State Patrol and the DNR stepping up into working in area that that’s not their normal area of responsibility, and they stood tall. This was Sheriffs from all over the State of Minnesota, sending me their Corrections Officers and their Deputies, and literally coming to the mat themselves to make sure that we had the resources we need needed.
John Harrington: (33:56)
This was Federal Law Enforcement partners, the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office, US Marshall, sending us additional resources to make sure that we could do investigations, that we could scrub the intel, so that we could be driven by facts and not necessarily running around chasing every rumor with uniform cops.
John Harrington: (34:20)
And finally, last but not least, this was an overwhelming support by the Minnesota National Guard, coming in and locking down critical facilities, so that first responders could in fact respond, and respond quickly. At this time I will turn the mic over to General Jensen, from the Minnesota National Guard.
Major General John Jensen: (34:54)
Good morning, everyone. I’m Major General John Jensen, the Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. And the Minnesota National Guard continues to build our presence and our integration with our law enforcement partners across Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Last night, we completed 19 missions supporting law and order operations, fire response, and EMS support. This morning, I had the opportunity to visit Minneapolis and visit my soldiers and airmen who were in support of this operation. And I’m impressed and inspired by these men and women, who in just a few short hours left their lives as civilians, as school teachers, business owners, mechanics, truck drivers, and in a very short period, transitioned into their role as citizen soldier, citizen airmen, and operated with professionalism and dedication in an incredibly dangerous and complex environment. Commissioner Harrington talked about this was a team effort, and it absolutely is a team effort. We’re a small part of that team. We’re incredibly proud to be a part of that team, both in Minneapolis and in Saint Paul. But we also know this, and several of the briefers this morning already talked about this. A tremendous amount of work remains ahead of us. We are committed to all of that work, whether it’s this week, next month, or into the future. Thank you, and at this time I’ll be followed by Colonel Langer from the State Patrol.
Colonel Langer: (36:43)
Thank you, General, and good morning. Yesterday, I stood here and I think I led with asking for the support from Minnesotans. And as I stand here 24 hours later after a very difficult, tiring, dangerous, dynamic night, first thing I want to say is thank you to the support of Minnesotans for helping us get through the night in a way that was very different than the previous nights this week. And while we were proud and humbled to accept the incredible challenge given to us by Governor Walz to restore order and bring peace to the City of Minneapolis, make no mistake about it, the State Patrol didn’t do this alone. The State Patrol relies heavily on the relationships we have developed over the history of our organization all across Minnesota with allied agencies.
Colonel Langer: (37:29)
I cannot thank enough the Police Chiefs and the Sheriffs, who dropped everything and sent their people to a community that they don’t normally police, to help make the City safer. State Troopers, the DNR Conservation Officers, the entire National Guard, County, Sheriff’s deputies, police officers, and all the dispatchers and other people who support those that you see in uniform, thank you is all comes to mind, but it’s not enough. The selfless service, traveling from all areas of the State, to the Metro region, to risk their personal safety for the greater good, really needs to be driven home.
Colonel Langer: (38:10)
It was a dangerous night it was a dangerous action. It was dynamic, it was unpredictable, and anyone who watched what happened all the rest of this week knew that that was likely what was in front of us last night. But as you know, our plan was different, it was unified, we were committed. And although we’re never perfect, and we are oftentimes our hardest critics, and there are always lessons learned, I stand on the backside of last night to say our goal was accomplished.
Colonel Langer: (38:40)
Fires were not set. We didn’t see the lawlessness. We didn’t see the risk to personal safety, the crime, the looting, the burglary, the property destruction was stemmed. That was our goal, that was our expectation, and that is our hope as we move forward. I appreciate the support of Minnesota, and I can’t again say thank you enough to both those in Minnesota who supported us and continue to support us and listened to the advice and obey the curfew. And again, thank those frontline first responders, our State Troopers and others, who came together and put their lives on the line to make the City safer and to make Minnesota a safe place for everybody. Thank you.
Governor Tim Walz: (39:33)
Again, I do want to echo my thanks. Commissioner Harrington, General Jensen, Colonel Langer, and all the folks that were there, for doing this incredibly difficult mission. I have to note that we are not done yet. At this point in time, I’d like to announce we’re going to be extending the curfew into this evening, as well as some of the operational moves that will continue to be put out today, like the closing of the major highways. In talking about what it takes to make this happen, you’re hearing a lot of things. I think there’s a lot of untold stories out there of everyone who was making this happen, trying to make support from our business communities. I received communications from Charlie Weaver, who leads up our Minnesota Business Partnership, making note in helping us understand all of the private businesses who are already hurting in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and those restrictions, were out there providing food and support to our first responders. I want to thank all of them.
Governor Tim Walz: (40:35)
And I also want to thank for Minnesotans, that our democracy is dependent on checks and balances. Our democracy is dependent on how things have a transparency to make sure we’re making the right decisions and able to correct those, to bring back a place where civil liberties are critically important, and that that legislative process is part of this. With that being said, I want to be clear. The responsibility of once this organization to put it in place, to put the pieces, to task the experts in their individual areas, there’s only one person in Minnesota that can issue that order to go, and that’s myself, as Governor of Minnesota. That means the responsibilities are mine. When I sent those folks into the field to operate, the outcomes of that and how that was conducted and the guidance to them, falls back with me. And I think what’s important though is, there are other voices in this. And last night, I want to thank, and this has been active from you’ve heard about the church leaders and everybody, but the legal responsibility of our legislators to be a part of this. They have been constantly on the phone, basically doing the thing that great legislators do, fielding questions and concerns and problem solving for their constituents, whether they be House members or Senate members, or whether they be leaderships of those organizations. So last night, in the final briefing and the execution of this operation was going to be put in place before I was giving the order, those leaders were briefed. And Speaker, Melissa Hortman, Speaker of the Minnesota House, Susan Kent, the Minority Leader of the Minnesota Senate, joined us by phone. And Majority Leader of the Minnesota Senate, Paul Gazelka, and Minority Leader, Kurt Daudt, joined us in the Emergency Operations Center, where they received a brief from my on-the-ground commanders.
Governor Tim Walz: (42:23)
I gave them my commander’s intent of what would happen, and what would be done. They asked all the right questions. And, I just want to say, and I certainly won’t speak for them, they’ll speak for themselves. But the sentiment is, is that we are clearly political rivals, but our love for this State and our desire to get this right was expressed. I want to say thank you to them, understanding how very difficult for them this is to watch at this time, but their support, their continuing to ask questions, probe and challenge to make us do this right, is greatly appreciated. With that, I would open it up for questions. Esme?
Why didn’t you have that same massive show of force on Friday night? Thursday night, the 3rd Precinct was burned down. Businesses were destroyed. I mean, it was Thursday night was a bad night.
Governor Tim Walz: (43:15)
Governor Tim Walz: (43:17)
Well, the first thing I would say is that I’ve seen this and we’ve discussed this both from a military perspective. The question that’s always going to get asked is, “Why did you not have enough, and why did you have too much?” I’ve had questions last night, “Could I guarantee that Minnesotans would have the safety in their homes?” And I said, “I will guarantee you I’ll give my best effort.” Those very same reporters, two hours later were saying, “Is this an excessive use of force that we’re seeing?” One of the things is, is logistically to bring them there. I think on the timing we understood. One of their critiques was, why didn’t we do this Wednesday? Or why didn’t we do it Tuesday? There’s logistics of adding the type of force we had up there.
Governor Tim Walz: (43:53)
There was also the dynamics of a community that is raw from law enforcement. Keeping in mind what the spark was that lit this, was law enforcement killing an innocent man on the streets. So trying to measure when the proper time was, when it was strident to be there, I will not make excuses. In retrospect, I think you could go back and we said this. If we’d assembled this force last Friday, we’d have been better off, but that wasn’t going to be, that wasn’t the case.
Governor Tim Walz: (44:21)
So again, I’m the only one that can issue those responsibilities. That means if you’re going to do this, and I think in our country, it’s important, if it succeeds because you did that, that’s fine. But you also need to stand here if it didn’t. I’m not going to second guess. I think it was… Again, I felt most comfortable that we had our forces in place to be able to do that, but it’s something that I will have to deal with, that loss of property and the anguish was there, is simply real. But that’s retrospect, and I have to look to the future. Peter.
Governor, Yesterday Justin Terrell of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage stood next to you, and asked that the Hennepin County Attorney be taken off the prosecution in this case. I would like your views on that. One, do you have any authority to do that? And two, if you do, is it something you’re considering?
Governor Tim Walz: (45:11)
Now, this question has been asked a lot. I think it needs to be talked about. This is complex. I have folks that let me know what the laws are, and they last this week and still in this point, trying to keep me from not using my authority of the Governor to jeopardize the legal proceedings that are out there. But, I hear this, I hear there is concerns. We have explored, and I do believe at this point in time, it’s not clear-cut, and I think we probably need to explain that or have an opportunity to talk to the public of where that’s at, but that is a potential possibility. At this time, no decision has been made, and we’ll continue to do explore that.
Governor Tim Walz: (45:52)
Because Mayor Carter said it, everyone here has said it. This issue of justice, there is no one in the communities, especially the black community, until they see results, is in any way going to feel comforted. They’ve seen this before, they’ve seen incremental change. They’ve seen times of crisis. They’ve seen Governors stand up in front of them and tell them, “Never again.” And so, when there are those leaders, and when there is an outcry on numerous fronts about things that we maybe have not done before but need to be done, I hear them. So, any other-
Yes. Governor, if I can ask a follow-up to Peter’s question, this is from Doug Glass at the Associated Press. He specifically asked the same question about a Special Prosecutor, but says that the Floyd family has specifically requested Attorney General, Keith Ellison, to be the Special Prosecutor, as has half of the Minneapolis City Council. Your thoughts on that.
Governor Tim Walz: (46:46)
That’s correct. And, the siblings of George Floyd asked me personally on this, so we have had that conversation. And I have received, from the City Council and from legislators, that request. I think it goes to the question that both of you are asking. There’s a desire on this. I think it’s incumbent upon me, in consultation with these leaders, certainly from the legal aspect, make sure I don’t do anything to jeopardize justice in this. But to recognize that the communities themselves are asking certain things and I need to explore it. I can just tell you at this point in time, no decision has been made, but certainly as we’re saying, it is out there, it is being considered. It would be incredibly negligent in the environment that we’re in for me not to make sure we’re exploring every option.
Speaker 4: (47:34)
Sure. We’ve heard multiple times from officials, it’s outside agitators from outside Minnesota, outside the area, driving the violence. Do you guys still believe that’s the case in the arrests we made last night? Are those folks from within the State, within the Metro area, or beyond it?
Governor Tim Walz: (47:47)
Yeah, I want to address this, if this comes up. I certainly believe that the sophistication of this, and I again, don’t want to get out ahead of what is proprietary. This is a fine line, of my inclinations are to be as transparent and give things forward. Before our operation-
Governor Tim Walz: (48:03)
[inaudible 00:48:00] are to be as transparent and give things forward. Before our operation kicked off last night, a very sophisticated denial of service attack on all state computers was executed. That’s not somebody sitting in their basement, that’s pretty sophisticated. But I do want to address this and I’m going to let the folks talk about the numbers. I think the confusion around this and the focusing on it… I did, last night when I went home to shower late, before coming back up here, I’ll just candidly… There’s the confusion of all this that’s happening. We’re getting data in. It’s hard to get the data just directly on arrest. What we’re hearing from human intelligence that’s coming in. But I just think candidly, I certainly think I want to believe it’s outside more. And that might go to the problem that we have of saying, can’t be Minnesotans. Can’t be Minnesotans who did this.
Governor Tim Walz: (48:49)
I’ve said all along when this question got asked, to be very clear about this, in saying that I think, and I know there are outside folks, and whether they’re predominance, whether they’re leading it or not, I’ve been very clear and I’ll say it again this morning, the catalyst that started all of this was the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, and that was our problem. And so we’ll get more data on this.
Governor Tim Walz: (49:10)
I think wherever these folks are coming from to cause us harm, we have to address it. But I do want to be very clear, the idea of saying they’re outside forces is not to deflect and pretend we don’t have that. So I do think it’s an important question. At this time, I don’t know if there’s anything to add. I don’t have any specifics on this, other than to be able to say that it does not look like the majority. I can’t speak about the arrest, so I’ll make sure.
John Harrington: (49:37)
John Harrington, again. The data we had from yesterday, there was about 20% of the folks arrested came from outside of the state of Minnesota. We’re tracking folks from Arkansas, from Kansas City, from Iowa, and Illinois, and I believe Michigan, in the pool of folks that were arrested yesterday. I still don’t have the booking sheets yet from last night, so I can’t give you any additional information on that in terms of the most current set of arrests, but 20% of yesterday’s arrest had out of state addresses that we were tracking.
Governor Tim Walz: (50:16)
Thank you, John. Thank you for the question. I think this was one we still need to explore more. And again, just in that moment of candidness, it’s easier sometimes for us to believe, but that also, I think, people understand in this broader issue that leads to some of the systemic issues in the front. Yes, sir.
Governor, can you talk about tonight, in the next couple of days, what people, particularly in the worst hit areas should think about continuing to take precautions, those sorts of questions?
Governor Tim Walz: (50:46)
Yeah, and I think today will be, again the mayor’s talked about this, you’ll see the best that Minnesota has to offer. There’s folks already out there cleaning, building, doing things. I think it would be naive of us and irresponsible, and this will be a question maybe going back to Esme, we are going to keep in place that curfew, we’re going to keep in place and we’ll communicate with the public clearly today. There will be critiques of me that this is excessive. Why are you keeping the force on the ground after this happened? I just think it’s irresponsible. We don’t think these people quit. I think in light of what we’re seeing around the country that these have expanded.
Governor Tim Walz: (51:16)
And so what we’re asking people to do is to today, continue on what they’re doing. We’re going to encourage you throughout the day. And again, I want to add to that cooperation. I do know that there will be people that were on the streets last night after the curfew that are there because they are outraged about what happened to George Floyd. They were out on the streets after 8:00, not to in cause or thinking about causing riots. But as we said yesterday, we can’t separate in that and these people are hiding behind them. So I’m going to ask the leaders again, to ask those folks to stay home after 8:00 to ask them, to give us the space, and we are going to not allow our streets to be turned into chaos. We are going to be smart with our force that’s out there and of course continue to monitor the situation.
Governor Tim Walz: (52:09)
We certainly, as I think folks know, we cannot stay in this posture forever. That’s why it’s important today to start sending strong signals on the things to the people that cause this, and the catalyst that caused it, are being worked on, are being talked about. I will be spending time talking, once again, with those faith leaders, with community leaders, with folks who are looking at law enforcement reform, all of those things will happen.
Governor Tim Walz: (52:32)
But to Minnesotans, I would tell you this, we’ve got a bright, sunny last day of May. Our city was not burning. We had no loss of life. We saw our communities come together around this. Be a a day, I think to start the healing, but come 8:00 tonight, and before that. I’d asked us to make sure we can maintain that. Peter.
Thank you. I have a question actually for state police. At risk of being one of those reporters who questions tactics, I’m going to ask about tactics last night. There was a lot of attention paid, particularly to the video of the woman on her porch, who was told to go inside and was, I think, it’s a marking ground was fired at her. Can you speak to that? And then also I know it’s too soon for any after action analysis, but were there other things that concerned you, that you think you would like to address with folks going forward?
Colonel Langer: (53:24)
That’s a good question. I think I referenced in my comments, these aren’t particularly pretty actions that we take and I can assure you of all the things a State Patrol would have rather been doing this week and last night, it was anything but what we had to do. But it was necessary. And so I commit to you, honesty and transparency. We always look at these types of situations. There’s always lessons learned. Never a single one of them has gone by that’s perfect. And as long as we’re continually improving both our training and our practices and learning, that’s all that we can ask for.
Colonel Langer: (53:58)
And so we’ll review this, like we do any large scale incident, both with the greater law enforcement community and then inside specifically within the State Patrol, there’ll be things that we learn. There’ll be things that we change. And then we hope we never have to do this again. But if we do, we’ll be better.
Is there a protocol that says you do not want to have something behind you, for instance?
Colonel Langer: (54:19)
Absolutely. Yeah. Make no mistake about it. When you’re standing on that line and you have to picture and put yourself in the position of law enforcement, you’re wearing all your gear, you have a helmet on, because people are throwing things at you and people are getting hurt. And then you put a gas mask on because we’re confronted with things being thrown at us, both liquid, whether it’s urine or gasoline or other items, there’s chemical, there’s commercial grade fireworks coming at us, there’s literally a fog. And so you put all of this stuff on and you’re pushing into an unknown dangerous environment where people are collecting signs and rebar and breaking fences and arming themselves to do harm to our law enforcement. Yeah, it’s a dynamic dangerous situation. And when you’re pushing forward, absolutely the goal of crowd control is to control that crowd, to disperse that crowd, to bring the energy out, to keep the peace, and then to arrest and remove safely and quickly and efficiently, those that aren’t listening or those that are intent on doing harm.
Colonel Langer: (55:20)
And so nothing about it is pretty, but you hit the nail on the head. The goal is to disperse and move that crowd and you cannot move some of the crowd and allow some of the crowd to stay behind you. That would just be a recipe for failure, particularly for those extremely bad actors who would like nothing more than to give the representation that they’re just fine and they’re here to help and they’re good citizens, and then they get behind our officers and then they do their bad act.
Colonel Langer: (55:48)
And as the Commissioner said, we recovered guns. We recovered all kinds of dangerous stuff. So I could go on and on, but the bottom line is, there’s lessons learned and our folks are well-trained. We’re trained at all sorts of different places across the country. We have some of the best, I believe, field force commanders in the nation. We follow best practices. We train and we have good policy, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t learn from each one of these incidents.
Governor Tim Walz: (56:14)
I would follow up, Peter. Thank you, Colonel. I think this is one of the things of these concerns and I agree with it, but people picked up with guns claiming to be reporters at the time of the minute of the attack and the confusion of all this. But I think what’s really important to note on this is, and the after action and the looking at this, those law enforcement folks were on that street and giving those orders because I used my authority an ordered them to be there. And I think one of the problems we have with this is for so long, many communities have seen things that are truly not fogs of war or anything like that, truly misconduct issues. And they’ve heard, we’ll internally investigate and it’ll be fixed. That’ll be done. They don’t have the faith in that. We know that.
Governor Tim Walz: (57:03)
I trust this. I think what we need to change in part of this culture is that people are asking for injustice and accountability. And so that’s why I will once again say this, those officers were out there under my direction, which makes me the one who’s accountable for making sure that those things are investigated. That if they do prove there was misconduct that we do something. But I want to send a very clear signal. I supported the actions that were out there. I gave the order to go with them. Those folks need to know that we’re there.
Governor Tim Walz: (57:34)
And then to the public, there needs to make sure that in when doing this again, and just like I say, it is unacceptable, what happened to our reporters, and I’ll do everything that I’m getting feedback and asking how do we change this situation? What can we do next time to make sure they’re not there?
Governor you and several other public officials characterized what happened to George Floyd as murder. Are you worried at all about prejudicing this thing, the case, or tainting potential jury pools that sort of-
Governor Tim Walz: (58:04)
Well, first and foremost, the charge brought by the County Attorney is murder. And I think as a human being, I have a very difficult time watching that and seeing that. But the answer is, yes, I do worry about this. I worry because my human emotion, the visceral response to the erasing of the humanity of George Floyd, which felt like us erasing the humanity of all of us. We’re human and the emotions come forward.
Governor Tim Walz: (58:31)
But I think one of the problems we’ve had is, is that we haven’t been willing to call things what they were and that created an ambiguity. And I think as people say, in any case I guess it would be, but the best analogy I have, if that would have been four civilians on another civilian, we wouldn’t be having a debate at all whether that was murder. That’s what it was.
Governor Tim Walz: (58:56)
So yes, I do worry about that. I need to be cautious about that. It goes back to the question about the Special Prosecutor. Law is there for a reason. But I also think when a community sees us hiding behind process and patience, that adds to a lot of this, but it’s a good question. And I do. Esme? I’m sorry. No. [crosstalk 00:59:17].
Do you want to see the other three officers charged? You mentioned waiting on process does tend to rile people up somewhat. Do you think that will help calm tensions [crosstalk 00:59:30]?
Governor Tim Walz: (59:29)
Well, yes. I think from what I’ve seen in all this, I do think that. I’ll let the prosecutors and the folks decide. I do think that’s warranted. Do I think it will calm things? I think we may be getting to a closer point where the expectations of things being done… And folks, what I tell you will not calm and Mayor Carter, Mayor Fry, both articulated this very clearly, that primal scream for justice and change is going to be there. Will that be enough to take away the manifesting of the fires and all of that?
Governor Tim Walz: (01:00:06)
No, I saw an interview last night where somebody who was out past curfew, but was passionate about what happened this and was screaming at the people who were starting fires and doing those types of things. So I don’t necessarily… I think it would start to move us forward. I think it would be naive to believe that it would stop some of this just by that. Because the folks who are doing a lot of that, aren’t interested in the prosecutions, but there are a large number that are. Can we take one more with Esme?
Governor, A lot of viewers are asking me to ask you this question. How did Jay-Z get your phone number? What did he have to say to you?
Governor Tim Walz: (01:00:44)
Yeah. I got a text from Van Jones, who I had talked to before and I’m not quite certain how he had my number, but I knew him, we’d talked before. He said that that Jay-Z would like to talk to me about this, that he’d been speaking out on it, and I’d been taking calls. And I said, “Yes.”
Governor Tim Walz: (01:01:04)
He called, and as I said again, it’s strange amongst all of this, but it was so incredibly human. It wasn’t Jay-Z international celebrity and well known. It was a dad, and I think quite honestly, a black man, who’s visceral pain of this, that he knew. His words to me, and I want to be the confidential, but to summarize what it was is, is justice needs to be served here. Justice needs to be served.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:01:30)
And I’m grateful that he said he’s been watching this on TV. And he said he feels the compassion and the humanity of these folks who are speaking in a very difficult environment at the heart of this, all of these elected officials who are here. And he knows that the world is watching. How Minnesota handles this is going to have an impact across the country. And I think that’s what his expressions were. And he was passionate. He was gracious. He was grateful.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:01:58)
But I have to tell you, I think it’s certainly a positive sign of someone of a stature that has a presence like that is focused in the moment of what Minnesotans are focused for, focused in the moment of all of those peaceful protesters down there on Lake Street yesterday afternoon and what they were expressing. That’s what he was expressing.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:02:19)
And then a very, quite honestly, deliberate ask along the same questions of, how will this be prosecuted and can we trust that it’ll be done right?
Speaker 5: (01:02:30)
We do have to end there today.
Governor Tim Walz: (01:02:30)
Well, thank you. We’ll continue to brief as accurately as possible information about today’s actions as far as curfew road closings and things will be posted as soon as possible. And I asked Minnesotans to use this new day and sun to connect with your neighbor, to continue to build community. Let’s show the world what we know is the side of this state that we are so incredibly proud of. So, thank you. [inaudible 01:03:00]. Thank you, mayors. Thank you, Commissioner. Thank you [crosstalk 00: 15:04].