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Minnesota National Guard put on standby following request from Minneapolis mayor

Plus: activists push to let Minnesota medical cannabis patients own guns; protesters gather in Uptown to remember Deona Knajdek; Southwest LRT sees $24 million in unexpected construction costs; and more.

Members of the National Guard are seen at the Hennepin County Government Center on Tuesday.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Members of the National Guard are seen at the Hennepin County Government Center during the Derek Chauvin trial.
In the Pioneer Press, Dave Orrick writes: “Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday ordered the National Guard to ‘start preparing’ to be sent into Minneapolis should they be needed to help keep the peace, his office said. The development came as authorities charged a St. Paul man who drove into a crowd of protesters with second-degree murder. No Guard members had actually been deployed as of Wednesday afternoon, and it was unclear if any would be. … Walz’s ‘warning order’ to the Guard followed a request from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who said soldiers might be needed to help local law enforcement regarding recent clashes between Minneapolis police and aggressive and violent protesters in the wake of the law enforcement shooting of Winston Smith.”

In the Star Tribune, Briana Bierschbach reports, “An unlikely alliance of far-right conservatives and legal marijuana advocates is pushing to allow medical cannabis patients to own guns. The federal government classifies marijuana as an illicit drug — on par with heroin, LSD and ecstasy — and prohibits anyone who uses an ‘unlawful’ substance from purchasing a firearm. Some gun rights supporters and pro-legalization groups and legislators are lobbying during the special session to allow the Minnesota Department of Health to petition the federal government to exempt marijuana from its schedule I classification for patients on the medical program, meaning the government recognizes it has medicinal qualities.”

Callan Gray reports for KSTP-TV: “Community members gathered at the intersection of West Lake Street and Girard Avenue South on Wednesday evening to remember Deona Knajdek. Her birthday was June 16; she would’ve turned 32 years old. … As the memorial got underway, the intersection was blocked off to traffic. The group that gathered marched east on  Lake Street chanting, ‘Happy Birthday, Deonna Marie.’ … Speakers at the event called for first-degree murder charges for Nicholas Kraus in connection with Knajdek’s death on Sunday. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced a second-degree murder charge against Kraus earlier in the day.”

The AP’s Amy Forliti writes: “Prosecutors say the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder and manslaughter in George Floyd’s death should not be granted a new trial because the proceedings were fair and Derek Chauvin was found guilty by an impartial jury, according to a court document filed Wednesday. The state’s document came in response to defense requests to grant Chauvin a new trial and to hold a hearing to question jurors about alleged misconduct. Among other things, defense attorney Eric Nelson said intense pretrial publicity, alleged prosecutorial misconduct and some decisions by the court made it impossible for Chauvin to get a fair trial. Prosecutors said Nelson’s claims were without merit and were desperate attempts to ‘undo the jury’s verdict.’”

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Also in the Star Tribune, Jim Buchta reports: By virtually every measure May was a record-setting month for Twin Cities home sales, but there’s at least one indication that an ever-so-slight seasonal slowdown might be in the offing: an uptick in price cuts. During May, buyers signed 6,834 purchase agreements in the Twin Cities metro area, according to a monthly report from the Minneapolis Area Realtors (MAR). That was a nearly 16% increase over last year, when the pandemic caused a double-digit decline in pending sales, but only a 1% increase compared with a more typical 2019. The median price of all closings during the month was $342,500, a record high and a 16% gain over last year. May closings, a reflection of deals signed during the previous couple of months, were up 15% over last year but down 9% compared with 2019.”

FOX 9 reports: “A Minneapolis man has been sentenced to six years in prison for the arson of a St. Paul rental car store during the riots after the death of George Floyd, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Minnesota. On May 28, 2020 surveillance video captured 31-year-old Matthew Scott White going inside an Enterprise Rent-A-Car on University Avenue and starting a fire in an office, according to court documents. He helped the fire grow by throwing paper on the flames. After leaving the building he told onlookers that the building was ‘going up.’”

The Star Tribune’s Janet Moore reports: “Nearly $24 million in unexpected construction costs was added to the Southwest light-rail budget this week, a move that prompted frustration and pointed questions from some elected officials. … About $21 million of the recently approved change orders is related to an unanticipated amount of contaminated soil that must be removed from work sites along the line. ‘This really should have been caught,’ said Hennepin County Commissioner Irene Fernando at a special meeting Monday of the Southwest LRT Executive Change Control Board, which considers significant budget changes. ‘Twenty-one million dollars is no small number.’”

Also from the AP: “The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly on Wednesday passed bills banning transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports — measures taken up in the middle of Pride month and all but certain to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. The measures passed on party line votes, with all Republicans in support and Democrats against. They must also pass the GOP-controlled Senate before going to Evers, who has repeatedly said he stands with transgender students.”