Apr 19, 2021
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz April 19 Press Conference Transcript: Public Safety Ahead of Chauvin Verdict
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a press conference on April 19 to address public safety before the announcement of Derek Chauvin’s verdict. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Tim Walz: (00:20)
Good afternoon, to everyone who’s assembled here, and good afternoon, Minnesota. I’ll be joined today by Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, and by Saint Paul Mayor, Melvin Carter. We’re going to take a little bit of time to try and describe what the intentions are for this week as the trial of Derek Chauvin is now in the hands of the jury, and as importantly, talk a little bit about what are the next steps in that. It’s become kind of cliche to mention this last year has been incredibly difficult, and that is true across the country, particularly true here in Minnesota. Our pain and our trauma were videotaped and displayed for the world. The world watched George Floyd die, with a knee on his neck, for nearly nine minutes. And they’ve seen it replayed so many times at the spectacle of a black man dying, I fear that we desensitized just the horrificness of what was witnessed on that Memorial Day last year.
Tim Walz: (01:20)
And we’re here this week because of that act, plain and simple, at the end point, where we watched a man’s humanity be taken, and then we watched his life be taken. Last May and June, we watched that pain, that anger, and that heartbreak pour out into our streets here, across the country, and around the world. That civil unrest that followed here in Minnesota, left nearly 1000 businesses in ruin, and the life stream of many with them. Many of those were businesses owned by people of color, the very people that are traumatized by what we saw with George Floyd. Our state was shattered. The fierce urgency for change was upon us. And we came together, bipartisanly, and we passed a small package of reforms, a beginning. But we stalled, we weren’t able to pass a package to fund and rebuild those businesses, to make sure that we provided those opportunities in those very communities that were traumatized.
Tim Walz: (02:14)
We all know that what you’re seeing right now is reactive, it’s not proactive. Communities have been demanding change. They’ve demanded that it wasn’t enough, and they’ve very clearly stated, if the systemic changes that need to be made aren’t made, that things would repeat themselves. And when I say things, I mean the horrific deaths of young black men over and over, and a systemic feeling in this state that not everyone gets the same opportunities. And just a week ago on Sunday afternoon, we and the world watched again, as Daunte Wright’s humanity was taken from him, and then his life. And now we’re here with our justice system, just put the decision for Derek Chauvin will be decided by that jury. His fate will be decided by the jury. We’ll decide our fate in this state. We must acknowledge two truths, we cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos, we must protect life and property.
Tim Walz: (03:17)
But we also must understand very clearly, if we don’t listen to those communities in pain and those people on the streets, many of whom were arrested for speaking a fundamental truth that we must change, or we will be right back here again. In this moment, it’s our goal together, the mayors, the community organizers, people across this state, from law enforcement to ministerial associations, is to try and make sure that we strike that proper balance of making sure that the peace and stability is upheld, but that equally as important is, that rage that will be on the street regardless of what happens, is channeled into a positive way. And that positive way means change. We have to have that change. We can’t live like this, we cannot continue to live like this. Systemic and fundamental changes will need to be made. It needs to be started with systemic public safety reforms. Some very simple truths that I think we can all agree on, and let’s work from there. No one should die for a simple traffic violation.
Tim Walz: (04:25)
There’s enough smart people out there and enough agreement around that, that we should be able to find some answers, because to be very clear, if we don’t find that answer, we’re going to be right back in this situation, and I’m going to continue to say it, we cannot continue. We cannot live this way. Communities need to be heard, they’re frustrated, not just out on the streets and say, “Why are you doing that?” Because they’re not being heard. They’re demanding that these changes be made. They told us last year, change cash bail, change how you do traffic stops. It didn’t happen and look what we got. I was speaking to a woman today, a black mother, and I was explaining how frustrating it is in our political system to try and find consensus to get stuff done. And she said, “Wait a minute.” She said, “You’re frustrated?” She said, “You’re the Governor of the damn state, think how frustrated I am. What power do I have to change this?”
Tim Walz: (05:16)
Her point was, listen and make the changes. Don’t find a reason you need to go home, don’t find a reason to adjourn, and don’t say it’s hard. Hard is Katie Wright having to stand in front of the press, and the shame that all of us should feel to watch her talk about why her son died. She doesn’t need our pity, she doesn’t need our sympathies, she doesn’t need us talking to her. She needs us to do actions. And I say us, me and everyone else, are a part of it. But let’s be very clear, George and Daunte, and Philando and Jamal… We can go through anything in Minnesota, the names… Say their names. I hear that in front of my house as I should, “Say their names.” They need to know that I better go to bed thinking about, say their names of who died. What’s unfortunate is, it wasn’t on 38th and Chicago, or out in Brooklyn Center where their destinies and fate would put into play. Their destinies and fate were put into play before they were even born. Health disparities are apparent prenatal. Almost catastrophically, the number of women who die in childbirth, or from it, is simply unacceptable. Their fate was set when they get expelled from schools for disciplinary actions at a rate much higher than their white classmates, educational attainment levels, home ownership disparities, economic disparities. It’s simply a miracle that more don’t end up there because of the system that’s set that way, and we expect our police department to fix all of that. We expect that when it gets to there, they’re going to make those corrections that go all the way back to pre-birth.
Tim Walz: (06:51)
So yes, we need to make systemic changes to take away the immediate danger, but we also need to have this recognition that if we can figure out a way to fund to get ready for this so that we don’t burn down our buildings, then we can find the money to fund summer school, and meals for these kids, and do the things that are necessary. We can’t keep making this a false choice, and we can’t keep expecting that through more training and things like that, we’re going to fix it all. We can remove a lot of the threats, but these will continue to manifest themselves unless we tackle that piece of it.
Tim Walz: (07:27)
The things that we need to do on systemic racism, I said we’re a proud state, but we’re a state that needs to come to grips with our own history. We’re a state that needs to have that conversation, we’re a nation that needs to have that conversation. I pledge to do all I can. I think about that with… I’m hearing people say how stressed they are this week. Again, I had a mother say, “That’s how I feel every time my son gets in the car to drive to soccer practice, every single day.” And the rest of us are waiting, tension, what’s going to happen? Where is this going to come back? That’s how people live their lives. We can’t live that way, we can’t allow our neighbors to live that way, or young black youth. They apparently all know about it. There’s a Siri app that the minute you’re pulled over you’re, “Hey, Siri…”, so it notifies your parents where you’re at and starts recording, right away. My kids don’t have to do that. They don’t have to think about that. What a diminishment of life if that’s the first thing that’s on your mind.
Tim Walz: (08:21)
You might’ve actually been five mile over the speed limit, well, that’s not the end of the world. We have to enforce our laws, but we have to have a sense of reasonableness here. And those are the things that are out there, so I pledge to do what we can do. And I want to say, I hear those concerns, who fear for their businesses and their homes. We need to provide the security and we’re prepared to do so, but I also at the same hand, want to hear, I hear those decrying their inability to protest, and what they believe is heavy, and too much is out there.
Tim Walz: (08:49)
We need to strike that balance. I’ll be the first to tell you, this is not the way to live. We need to fix those other things so we don’t have to end up with National Guard on our streets, but I cannot allow those businesses to burn. I cannot have people’s livelihood or their safety put at play, but I will recognize what they’re saying. You will continue to have to do that if you don’t listen to what’s being said and the changes that need to be made. And I’d like to take a moment and express this concern around our press concerns. I just want to say this, we don’t need apologies when it becomes closing down press. It’s easy here to get press access, and I want people to understand, this is such a fundamental concern, that it actually shakes at the heart of our democracy.
Tim Walz: (09:35)
We have seen press and press freedoms around the world under threat. We’ve seen journalists attacked and killed. We’ve seen those that diminish and face things like fake news and try and diminish. It’s not fake news just because you don’t agree with it. It’s not fake news because it criticizes you. It’s trying to get the truth out so that people can be informed on the decisions we make. And I know that there are situations, and our law enforcement tries to do the best they can, but this is truly a zero sum proposition. We have got to get this right. And I’m asking, and we’re hearing, and trying to make changes in real time, but I think we need a national discussion about this because the thing that always comes up, that it’s easy to get press access unless it’s chaotic. Unless it’s chaotic, like you’re seeing on the streets, unless something’s happening. What we need to change our perception, we being those in elected office and Americans, we are not here to manage the press. The press is not meant to be managed.
Tim Walz: (10:28)
We need to figure out at that time of most chaos, that’s the time it’s most important for press freedom and we’re not getting that right. And we’re not getting it right out of malice, we’re not getting it right, because we don’t believe this, our law enforcement doesn’t believe it. We are apparently not using the tools necessary to make sure that that full freedom of movements of the story’s told. And that’s the story of how the police are responding, it’s the story of how our protestors are responding, it’s the story that someone else can tell, not the story we want to tell, or they want to tell. It’s the story that’s out there. Again, we have more work to do there.
Tim Walz: (11:04)
We will do the best in Minnesota to try and set the standard around that. We have failed this week. It’s especially egregious to me when I hear stories of a black reporter, having to be verified by a white reporter before someone will believe them, or an Asian journalist being asked if she speaks English. It’s unacceptable, it’s unacceptable both in the time we’re at. I know our law enforcement works as well as they can and tries to do this, we have to change the culture on how we view this. We have to make sure that it doesn’t matter if you’re the small town, one-sheriff town, or you’re a large police force, or the state patrol, or so forth. We all have to agree. And I know that’s the core values, but we have to have results. My commitment, and I ask of all of you is, this is our moment, Minnesota, to draw around our common humanity. The jury will decide that fate, I don’t know what will come back, but what I do know, is that we’re going to be shaped by the response, both in the coming days…
Tim Walz: (12:03)
… going to be shaped by the response both in the coming days and in the months and years to come. So that commitment to protect your right to protest, we’ll continue to do it and do it even better. We will protect your life and property, and we will do so within the limits of the law. And we’ll work to make sure, as we said, that these changes that have to happen will happen. With that, I’d like to introduce Mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (12:33)
Thank you, Governor, and thank you all for being here today. As we await the verdict, there are several inescapable truths. Over this last year, our Twin Cities have experienced a barrage of trauma, all culminating with this trial, and then the verdict. There’s been pain and anguish, anger, and frustration that is undoubtedly acutely felt by our Black and brown communities.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (13:03)
Regardless of the outcome of this trial, regardless of the decision made by the jury, there is one true reality, which is that George Floyd was killed at the hands of police. I said it on May 26, early in the morning, and I’ll say it again right now. Being Black in America should not, cannot be a death sentence. It’s on all of us to change that. Irrespective of the verdict, we understand that people will be feeling that anger and frustration, and they’ll feel the need to express it.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (13:41)
As we’ve seen over this past week in Brooklyn Center, following the tragic and horrible killing of Daunte Wright, as we’ve heard and listened to Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, what has become increasingly clear is that the foundation of anti-Blackness and deep structural racism within our society is palpable, here in Minneapolis, and throughout our entire nation, and coming together as a community right now is more important than ever.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (14:13)
None of this is straightforward, but we view that we as government have so many obligations. We’ve invested time, energy, resources, and money to make sure that people that want to peacefully protest, that want to express their First Amendment rights are able to do so. That right, as the Governor mentioned, also includes freedom of the press, a time honored and storied tradition. Indeed, a Constitutional right, and we must make sure that, especially over these next several days, that that right is unvarnished. The bad, the good, everything in between, we want people to see the truth in our city and in our region.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (14:58)
Additionally, while law enforcement may be the most visible component as part of a comprehensive plan, it is indeed part of a comprehensive plan that is built around ensuring the security and safety of every single person throughout our city and in our communities. Earlier this week, our Office of Violence Prevention led by our director, Sasha Cotton, instituted seven community-oriented contracts that are all built around ensuring a two-way stream of communication, making sure that we can disseminate important intelligence and also receive important information on a timely basis. That’s in addition to the formalized agreements that we have worked out with neighborhood associations, community leaders, and block captains. Those relationships, those formalized agreements will be all the more important over the coming days.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (15:48)
This planning has indeed been undertaken to safeguard residents, our communities, and all of our visitors. It’s also been made to ensure that those that seek to come into our city to cause chaos and destruction are stopped. We cannot have people that seek to use peaceful protesters as cover to cause destruction in our city. That will not be tolerated. So the planning that we’ve done and that will be instituted over these coming days has indeed been done to avoid confrontations. Chief Arradondo and I have made sure to center deescalation in both policy and practice, and it’ll be very much a guiding principle over the coming days. And for those that are feeling great discomfort due to the increased presence of law enforcement and National Guard in our city, we hear you. We hear you. And please know that the present state within our Twin Cities, it is temporary, and we will get through this together.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (16:55)
For some, the grief that took hold at the onset of this pandemic, it was felt drop by drop. A dull, in some cases unrelenting sense of uncertainty, and for too many, incalculable loss in solitude. For our Black neighbors in particular, I know that the effects have been torrential. The flood gates not just of nine minutes, but of 400 years worth of injustice, inequity, broken systems, they’re pouring over our community like a tidal wave. There is no playbook to navigating some of these most difficult circumstances and traumas. No guarantee that any measure of self-care, personal discipline, or good intention can blunt its impact.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (17:49)
So much of the national narrative that we’ve heard over the last several weeks and months has been that Minneapolis is a city on edge. You’ll hear no argument from me. That’s certainly part of it. From Black barbershops, churches, mosques, health care community-based clinics, and classrooms the world over, the words spoken here in our city, they’ve reverberated across the entire globe, and have had a profound impact and perhaps a greater weight than anybody anticipated.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (18:25)
But we are not simply a city on edge. We are a city on the verge of tremendous progress, on the precipice of change. Long after the blinking light of cable news is gone, long after the headlines have been run and the media has gone home, and the month of April has been chronicled in Minneapolis history, we will still be here. We will still be here in the city that we love.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (18:55)
As Governor Walz mentioned, the importance of legislation at the city and local level, and at the state level, is more critical right now than ever. And right now there are so many past and overdue changes that have eluded transformational-minded lawmakers for decades. We have an opportunity right now. We have an opportunity right now to take a scalpel, to carve out the necessary arbitration reforms that will make police departments more accountable. We have before us the necessary hammer to make sure we’re doing away with some of the legislation that has propped up union contracts for decades. Our actions need to be as serious as the words we are providing. We need to make sure that the precision of our solutions matches the precision of the harm that was initially inflicted, and that harm was precise.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (19:49)
I met earlier today with some of the heads of the NAACP. They are clear-eyed and clear-minded with respect to the changes that we need to see ahead, both in Minneapolis and throughout United States. At the same time, we recognize that the sustained success of our cherished businesses, community-based institutions, clinics, places of worship, they will in no part determine our ability to make that very essential change.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (20:24)
I spent so much of the last week on West Broadway and East Lake Street Downtown, talking to a number of businesses and residents and community leaders. A constant refrain from community was that, “We cannot see our livelihoods in the Twin Cities torn down.” All that, as the Governor mentioned, we’ve tried to bolster up over this last year, all that we’ve done, and all of the work that our neighbors and local businesses have done, and poured in their sweat and blood and tears to make sure that they have a successful and community-oriented business or organization, that must be retained.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (21:02)
So we ask not for acquiescence or assent, but for peace. And peace, let me be clear, it does not mean that we’re forgetting why we’re here right now. The kind of peace that we seek here in the coming days, it must propel us forward to a better version of our city, to a better version of ourselves. White supremacy is no longer some abstract construct in our city or in Minnesota. White supremacy is the physical structure that is guiding so many of the institutions and has held back the necessary policy reforms for decades.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (21:44)
The last year has undoubtedly reshaped the very facet of our society. We’re very much at the epicenter of a centuries in the making reckoning around racial justice, a re-imagining of how we approach these systems that need to be changed. Our community has indeed stepped forward courageously in the moment and we will be here alongside them, working to chart a better path forward.
Mayor Jacob Frey: (22:12)
With that, I’ll introduce the mayor of St. Paul, Mayor Melvin Carter.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (22:33)
164 years ago, before Minnesota was even a state, in issuing their Dred Scott ruling, our United States Supreme Court declared that Black men have no rights which white men are bound to respect. One year ago, the entire world watched Officer Derek Chauvin kneel on George Floyd’s neck as Mr. Floyd was handcuffed, defenseless, unarmed and crying for his mom.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (23:17)
Today, the eyes of the world are upon us again, as this trial is finally in the hands of the jury, but we’re not waiting to learn if Officer Chauvin killed George Floyd. We all saw what we saw with our own eyes. We’re waiting to learn if our justice system is yet capable of holding someone accountable for it. In as much as their decision will determine the fate of the accused, they’ll make an even more critical declaration about the state of our union. That is whether or not the Dred Scott ruling still stands as the law-
Mayor Melvin Carter: (24:03)
The Dred Scott ruling still stands as the law of this land. Whatever the jury decides, we have work to do. If we didn’t know that before 2016, when Philando Castile was shot to death in front of his four year old daughter, if we didn’t know it before last year, when officer Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and if we didn’t know that before the allegedly accidental killing of Dante Wright last week, we had better know it now. This cycle will not stop until we stop it. All of those men should still be alive today, and there is no acceptable reason why they are not.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (24:53)
As important as it is to hold their killers accountable after a life is wrongfully taken, we have deep, hard soul searching work ahead to re-imagine and rebuild the very compact between law enforcement and community and to stop this deadly cycle before one more name is added to the list. Like so many other local communities who are leaning into that work, our progress in St. Paul is stifled by state and federal elected officials who again and again block meaningful policy reforms like reforming traffic stops, eliminating cash bail, and ending qualified immunity. And we are frustrated by what sometimes seems like an endless flow of emergency response resources into our neighborhoods after something terrible has happened, while there’s never enough to fund the proactive investments we need to help our youth, families, and workers find stability and prevent something terrible from happening in the first place.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (26:14)
Over the past year, and certainly over the past several days, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in physical and virtual spaces for protest and healing alongside community members struggling with the mix of emotions, from sadness and grief, to confusion, to extreme anger triggered by these compound crises. These emotions prove that we are human, and the safe spaces our community members are creating to process them together are critical for our healing and safety.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (26:53)
Whatever the jury decides, we know that in this age of insurrection and extremism, that we must be ready for the possibility of those who would exploit this moment and drown out the powerful voices of constructive protests across our nation with violence and destruction. Last spring, on top of the trauma of George Floyd’s killing, we endured the widespread devastation of the very neighborhoods he loved. But rioting won’t solve this problem and looting won’t breathe life back into the bodies of our lost loved ones. We cannot cure harm by inflicting harm on others. Protesting violence through violent means only perpetuates those same cycles we are resolved to stop. And history always remembers poorly those who seek to assert their own humanity by dehumanizing others.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (28:07)
So, as we reject the violence and aggression that took George Floyd’s life, so too must we reject and do everything we can to prevent the burning and looting of our local barber shops and grocery stores, the pharmacies we rely on for life-saving medicine, and the affordable housing units our neighbors call home. As we renounce officers who escalate and inflict bodily harm on black and brown bodies, peaceful protesters, and members of the press, so too must we renounce those who throw books and stones at police and who hurl unprovoked insults at the teachers, plumbers, and electricians who stand forward as members of our National Guard every time we call for their help. We reject senseless acts of violence and aggression wherever they occur. Whatever the jury decides, I will call for us to forge a peaceful and forceful path forward. I am not calling for quiet, and I’m not asking anyone to stay calm. I’m hoping for neither resigned acquiescence, acceptance of a system that repeatedly steals the lives of our black and brown sisters and brothers, nor even patient acceptance of better than nothing incrementalism. We should be distraught, and alarmed, and disgusted, and demanding all in urgent national response with the critical understanding that we can best stop protests over police killings of unarmed black men by stopping police killings of unarmed black men. That means protecting our neighborhoods from further physical and emotional harm, while destroying the policies, practices, and union contract clauses that have too long allowed our lives to be destroyed with impunity.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (30:10)
Whatever the jury decides, we have a future to build, and we have proven that our better, stronger future does not exist within the confines of our national comfort zone. We have a future to build, and we shouldn’t be surprised when that process is loud and inconvenient, because construction is always loud and inconvenient. I know that some will undoubtedly take exception to the acknowledgement that anger and frustration are understandable human responses to all that we have endured. And there is always someone waiting to cut and mischaracterize anything we say in these spaces, but let’s be clear. When a wrong has clearly been committed, denying that wrong is far more infuriating than acknowledging the work we have to make amends.
Mayor Melvin Carter: (31:14)
We will do everything in our power to stop these cycles of unarmed black and brown bodies killed at the hands of law enforcement. We will do everything in our power to ensure officers whose actions fall below our standards can be held accountable. And we will do everything in our power to keep from reliving the damage and destruction our communities endured last spring. Whatever the jury decides, we reject the notion that these are competitive or conflicting goals. Without a doubt, they will prove to be one and the same. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (31:49)
Thank you, Mayor Carter. Thank you.
Governor Tim Walz: (31:59)
We’ll be glad to take any questions.
Speaker 2: (32:01)
Governor, and for the two mayors as well, are any of the three of you going to call a curfew preemptively this week?
Governor Tim Walz: (32:10)
At this time, there’s no statewide or region wide. But what we do is, and I think we assess multiple times a day. That’s why our public safety folks are not here with us. And they briefed this afternoon to talk to that. Mayors, I don’t know if you want to talk about…
Speaker 3: (32:25)
As the governor stated, we don’t have a curfew right now, either on the regional or statewide level, nor do we have it at the city level. But it’s certainly one of the tools that we will have available if necessary. But, as of right now, none is called.
Speaker 4: (32:47)
Governor, the Senate just passed nine million for law enforcement. Is that the best estimate of the total cost? And can you give us more detail on exactly how that will be spent?
Governor Tim Walz: (32:57)
Yeah. It is. And I know they’re working on this. And I just want to acknowledge, it’s very difficult right now. You heard Mayor Carter talk about it and I mentioned it. For communities that are struggling, and they’ve been asking for us to pass some legislation to allow summer school for students who have been set back and then they see more law enforcement money being passed. But I think the responsible thing in this time, as we said, we have to create the space that we don’t see the chaos that we saw and the civil disobedience. And that’s, I think, the estimate where it is. It’s expensive. Obviously, you can see that. It’s multi-jurisdictional. It’s heavy on the cities, the counties, and then of course the state. And our partners in the legislature are trying to help and move that. So, I think that’s our best estimate in the near future. We’re certainly grateful for that because, statutorily, we can’t run in debt, and we have to fund these agencies. And we’re coming to the end of the fiscal year.
Speaker 5: (33:50)
I have a question.
Speaker 6: (33:55)
I have a question. Do you believe that the law enforcement response escalated tensions with demonstrators? And if so, I’m curious, how is the strategy different? Can you give specifics on different strategy for dealing with demonstrations?
Governor Tim Walz: (34:11)
Yeah. De-escalation is always the goal. And we do the best we can. We train in each of ours, whether it’s the city police department, state patrol, DNR, National Guard, that is under my authority. I think this is a bit of a chicken and an egg. I think it starts to feed on itself. We try to use those measures. Again, there’s different tools. Some of them… a curfew, the fencing, the double fencing. And then, of course, ones that are very controversial now, the use of chemical munitions to disperse. And I think what, again, as I would say, is the vast majority of those people that are out there are out there expressing anger and telling us, “If you don’t fix this, you’re going to have continuously people out there.” I think Mayor Carter, if I got that right, if you don’t want to see people demonstrating about black men being killed, then figure out how to not get black men killed. And that’s what they’re telling us.
Governor Tim Walz: (34:58)
So, I do think, and I will certainly acknowledge that there are times, and I witnessed it at times this week, where it seems that did make the crowd a little bit. Then we also see the provocation of folks throwing things, and of course the very serious nature of having our National Guard and law enforcement shot at and being injured in that. So, none of this is good. We have to figure out a way, and it’s responsible on all of us.
Governor Tim Walz: (35:27)
And I want to thank those protesters in some of the community groups that were out there to lower that down. There were folks that were peacefully protesting who were telling others who appeared like they were going to veer into dangerous territory to stop that. It wasn’t the police who told them. That was very effective. So, I will acknowledge that we always have to reassess. We always want to bring those things down. Again, I think the three of us and all of you, having witnessed last May and June, how very quickly things can go and the terror that went, especially with the arsons. Once we saw those start to take off, that there is that. And for those-
Governor Tim Walz: (36:03)
Saw those start to take off, that there is that. And for those critics out there who say, “By putting these out there, you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and a sense of fear,” I acknowledge them, that we can’t live like this, we simply can’t, but we can’t have thousands of businesses burn and people put at risk.
Governor Tim Walz: (36:19)
So I will acknowledge that we all have work to do on this. I always think it’s a little of both and it’s a very challenging thing, but our goal is deescalation and non-confrontation at all chances. And I do, I’ve got to trust the folks who are out there to make that judgment to not escalate and to balance that of when they think we have a serious situation. And I think you saw this last week. There was a concern that that facility in Brooklyn Center would be lost.
Speaker 7: (36:48)
Governor, have you spoken with the President in recent days? Apparently he’s considering whether to address the nation after a verdict is read. Do you think that would be good idea?
Governor Tim Walz: (36:57)
I have not spoken directly, but we have spoken with the White House. There’s federal aid that is helping some of the protective services that come with the FBI and the other services in Minnesota. Those are part of some of these joint things that we do together.
Governor Tim Walz: (37:10)
So some of those things have been discussed. I, again, would not be presumptuous enough to give the president of the United States advice, but I think it would be helpful. I don’t pretend, and folks who are out there listening, this is in every state. We’ll own our stuff here, but it’s happening in every state. We saw it in Chicago.
Governor Tim Walz: (37:31)
I think nationally, the deep, painful, hard, uncomfortable conversation around race is out there. We can’t [inaudible 00:37:41] from crisis to crisis. So I would hope that the President would use the authority of the White House and the compassion we’ve seen in President Biden to address us all and to ask for calm.
Speaker 9: (37:52)
Governor, I’m wondering if there has been any action taken by law enforcement for those officers who mistreated protestors or journalists?
Governor Tim Walz: (38:01)
Yeah. The question about what actions, and again, I want to just be very clear about this. These agencies work incredibly hard at this, whether it’s… Each of our agencies work at this, but I think the thing that’s so frustrating to journalists is it doesn’t appear that anybody claims who did it or their specifics around it.
Governor Tim Walz: (38:21)
And this is a conversation that I had, and we did this after May and June, Minnesota State Patrol changed their uniforms to have the big white Minnesota State Patrol on the front so that people could clearly identify them. Each of the agencies look a little different.
Governor Tim Walz: (38:34)
And so I think right now we’re asking them to do the research and the investigation of what needs to be done to find out what the situation was and to see where it comes from there. I can’t give you any specifics about it right now, but I think the press has every right to demand that. I think we need to know.
Governor Tim Walz: (38:52)
And for me, again, I’ll go back to this. It’s just so incredibly frustrating that so many of these folks do it right, but you can’t have it happen once. You cannot have it happen once. And this has happened repeatedly, and acknowledgement. Certainly the larger the unrest and the larger the confrontation, there’s more opportunity for it, but it can’t be a pattern.
Governor Tim Walz: (39:14)
So what I’ll do is I’ll ask. We’ll follow up. We’ll see if anything’s on that. It’s my expectation, and we’re having this conversation now, I had a long conversation with more of the traditional media and we have to talk with new media, because all those perceptions matter, about ways we can work together to change these, if you will, rules of engagement, because I really do feel like there’s an attitude we need to manage the press in these situations, yes, to keep them safe, yes, to get this on there, but I think that creates a really unhealthy kind of construct, right, when we’re trying to get at this, that it’s just we’re doing it to try and manage and move.
Governor Tim Walz: (39:48)
And then this week I’ll say the movement back on dispersal orders and say, no, the press doesn’t have to disperse. And something that was very well-meaning, photographing credentials, certainly [inaudible 00:39:59], and rightfully so the press are saying why are you doing that? The goal was to try and speed them back into where they were at, but it had a more chilling effect.
Governor Tim Walz: (40:06)
So I can’t give you a specific on that. My expectation is for us to do that work that needs to be done, and then I think in the future, to figure out how is it easier to identify those individual situations, individual members.
Governor Tim Walz: (40:18)
And I would say this, law enforcement wants that more than anybody because they’re all painted with that brush if we don’t single out the folks who didn’t do it. And I talked to a middle-aged professional today, that understanding how much tensions out there, even just the use of language, we don’t need to yell profanities at folks who are out there. And I can’t tell them what to do. They have freedom of speech. It doesn’t help for them to yell profanities at the police. Now that may be part of it there. I said we have a responsibility to deescalate that by making sure it doesn’t happen. And the vast majority do, but she said, and I believe her, she was there, that she was peacefully protesting early and she heard some of that. Well, I relay that back to our folks. I’m sure the mayor’s relay that back to their folks and say this creates a volatile situation.
Governor Tim Walz: (41:01)
But I will just be candid. It is, as we said, I love the idea that we’re not on the edge. We’re on the edge of change, but we’ve got folks that are fire, folks both asking for change, but when I hear that people are tired from being out there, mothers tell me they’re tired every day that this happened.
Governor Tim Walz: (41:18)
So we’ll keep working, but you need to have an answer, and I don’t have the answer of who it is [inaudible 00:41:23].
Speaker 10: (41:23)
Governor, earlier Judge Cahill criticized the comments of California Congresswoman Maxine Waters about the trial. Part of her comments were also that if anything less than a murder verdict comes back, that protestors should become more confrontational. How much more difficult does that make your job? As you’re encouraging freedom of expression peacefully, not devolving into chaos, how do you respond to that, with outside politicians coming in and making comments?
Governor Tim Walz: (41:50)
Yeah. And I would note that it’s hard in this [inaudible 00:41:53]. My humanity of I saw what I saw. I’m not a juror and I know that you have be fair and I know justice, everyone needs to have justice in this. I was cautioned time and time again to make sure from this platform to not influence the jury, to not make it harder for them to come to this.
Governor Tim Walz: (42:09)
I think as the Mayor said, I’m not going to tell people to be calm or not to be angry. I am going to tell them not to create violence and not to make a situation there. So I think all of us have to choose our words. I certainly, of someone with Congresswoman Waters who I served with who has passionately fought for civil rights, certainly understandable that once she sees Black men killed time and time again, that she would feel I think a fierce sense of urgency to change this. I would just ask all of us to just make sure we’re speaking our hearts and speaking our humanity, but in this really kind of critical time, to be careful where we’re at.
Governor Tim Walz: (42:44)
But again, I’m just going to say this. There’s a whole bunch of folks who are going to hear, “The Governor’s telling me not to say anything and just to be calm, and then they’re going to run out the clock and not make changes.” And they’re saying that because that is what has happened.
Governor Tim Walz: (42:59)
So that’s why I’m stressing on this. If you don’t want some of those things to happen, I think we better start hearing about bills on the schedule ready to move. We better start seeing things ready to move. And I will acknowledge there’s a necessary and a fiscal responsibility that goes into this, but I want to be very clear, what they saw was a bill to fund a police move.
Speaker 8: (43:18)
Governor, on that note, what specific reforms are you most focused on passing this session and do you believe any of those should be tied to that $9 million?
Governor Tim Walz: (43:25)
Well, I think this is where the House bills, where they’re moving it. I know Representative Frazier has a bill specifically around traffic stop. That’s an immediate one. There is a list of things they have in there. And what I said, if they can move things, if they can move the entire package, their omnibus bill, I’m supportive of it. And now they need to get down and do the work, where there’s differences, to get together and pass them.
Governor Tim Walz: (43:47)
But I have told them and I told Representative Frazier and the authors of these bills that I will sign them immediately if they can get them through. I think the biggest thing is what I focused on, is this preemptive traffic stop type of situation, getting the mental health support that we need and both to that. I mean, I have mothers who’ve lost their children in these shootings. We don’t provide anything. And in many cases, it’s very difficult for them to get health insurance, let alone mental health care, and we leave them out there. And one mother said, “I had no money. I couldn’t bury my son and I had no help for it.”
Governor Tim Walz: (44:18)
We need to think about the implications this has in our community, and then I think we need to figure it out. It’s not an either/or proposition, that we can have unified teams that help when we have mental health situations with our police departments side by side. And I know these mayors are talking about that and working on that.
Governor Tim Walz: (44:35)
So I just think we see that. I’m seeing the business community coming out forcefully and asking us to make these changes. And then I will just go back to where I was before, let’s start fixing those systemic differences. Let’s move a very comprehensive package that’s led by the community around education. Let’s make sure some of these things we’ve been talking about on health care access and those disparities, we start to have a real conversation about closing them.
Speaker 8: (44:59)
Governor Tim Walz: (45:00)
Sorry, we can do a follow-up.
Speaker 8: (45:01)
I just wanted to clarify the second piece. Do you think any of that should be tied to the $9 million?
Governor Tim Walz: (45:05)
Speaker 8: (45:06)
Should any of that be tied to the $9 million that the Senate just passed and the House will be considering?
Governor Tim Walz: (45:11)
Well, I’m not going to tell the legislature… I do tell the legislature how to do their work, but I shouldn’t tell the legislature how to do their work. I think it would be easier for folks who are hurting to do that. I’m grateful for the money and I’m not going to criticize because of the fiscal responsibility. I have to pay the salaries of the folks who are out there or otherwise we have to lay them off.
Governor Tim Walz: (45:31)
So there’s a real operational necessity, but the optics of this, I understand that. And so if we could just move one piece of reform with this, and then next week, get another one and then keep going. So I’m not going to tell them how to do it. I don’t want to jeopardize what they’re able to do, but I am going to recognize the difficulty of some members to vote for this. It’s pretty hard.
Speaker 11: (45:53)
Last question? Great, thank you, everybody.
Governor Tim Walz: (45:56)
Thanks folks. Thank you, mayors.