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Minnesota AG Ellison to take over Floyd case, plus six other takeaways from Sunday

Gov. Tim Walz
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Gov. Tim Walz on Sunday: “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 closure of the major highways.”

1. Walz is transferring responsibility for prosecuting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin from the Hennepin County Attorney to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

On Saturday, during a press conference to urge people to abide by the 8 p.m. curfew, Justin Terrell, the executive director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage, stood next to Walz and urged him to give the prosecution of Chauvin — the former Minneapolis Police officer accused of killing George Floyd  — to  Ellison. A group of Minneapolis City Council members joined other local officials calling for the same.

On Sunday, after also being asked by members of George Floyd’s family to transfer the case, Walz announced he’d arranged to do just that. Walz said Ellison, with the cooperation of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, will take the lead in pursuing any prosecutions coming out of Floyd’s death. “We’ve heard you loud and clear,” Walz said.

In a video that captured the incident, Floyd is heard telling Chauvin he can’t breathe and bystanders can be heard urging Chauvin and three other officers at the scene to relent and help him. The 46-year-old Floyd later died, sparking widespread condemnation and five days of protests in Minnesota and around the world. The three other officers at the scene with Chauvin were also fired, but they have not yet been arrested or charged.

“The siblings of George Floyd asked me personally,” the governor had said earlier in the day. “It would be incredibly negligent in the environment that we’re in for me not to make sure we’re exploring every option.” 

2. Walz was happy with the actions of the State Patrol and National Guard, with notable exceptions

“We are not done yet,” Walz said. “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 closure of the major highways.”

Walz seemed satisfied with the performance of the State Patrol, the National Guard and other police agencies involved in the street clearance operation Saturday night — with some notable exceptions. Walz again had to apologize for the on-camera arrest of a journalist — this time it was WCCO photographer Tom Aviles. 

But he was pleased that what had happened Thursday and Friday night didn’t happen Saturday night. “The past week was one of the most difficult and trying weeks in the history of our state,” Walz said. “This morning in Minnesota the sun came out as it does this time of year, the trees are budded out, the flowers are up, the promise of summer after a long winter is there.” 

He thanked Minnesotans for following the curfew but also for getting together to protect each other and complement “the most-complex public safety operation in the state’s history.”

“They did so in a professional manner, they did so without a single loss of life and minimal property damage,” he said of troopers, guardsmen and other law enforcement agencies. 

State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said the plan was to pre-position small, fast-moving teams to respond to threats quickly as well as larger forces used to systematically clear streets of those who stayed out past 8 p.m. “We got innovative last night,” Harrington said.

Among the arrested were people with weapons. One officer was fired upon by a shooter armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, said he had 4,000 soldiers and airmen in the cities and that more will be arriving. Also helping were sheriffs departments from neighboring counties. “It was a dangerous night, it was a dangerous action, it was dynamic, it was unpredictable … but as you know our plan was different, it was unified, we were committed,” Jensen said. “And though we are never perfect, and we are oftentimes our hardest critics, I stand at the back side of last night and say our goal was accomplished.”

In a widely shared video, law enforcement shot a group of people with paint rounds as they stood on their porch in a residential neighborhood. 

State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer said: “These aren’t particularly pretty actions we take.”

“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,” Langer said. “But as long as we’re continuously improving, both our training and our practices and learning, that’s all we can ask for.”

State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer: “These aren’t particularly pretty actions we take.”
3. Not everybody thought the night went so well

Minnesota state Sen. Jeff Hayden, interviewed after a press conference called to discuss police reform and community investment on Sunday, said that some of the law enforcement tactics used Saturday night were heavy-handed. I trust that the governor and commissioner Harrington are reviewing their plans and refining it, ” he said. “And hopefully recognizing that standing on your porch is maybe not a violation, guarding your community if you feel like there hasn’t been a presence here is not a violation … But I think it did send a strong message to those folks who were hell-bent on destroying our community that that wasn’t going to be tolerated.”

4. Walz thinks the three other officers involved in the death of George Floyd should also be charged with crimes.

Walz has joined with his public safety commissioner as well as the two mayors in calling Floyd’s death “murder.” While he said he understands it could prejudice a prosecution, he said the video seems clear to him, and the charge against Chauvin includes a murder charge.

On Sunday he said that he thinks the other three officers who stood by while Floyd died and did nothing to intervene, despite police policy, should be charged as well.

“I’ll let the prosecutors decide, but I do think that’s warranted,” he said. “Do I think it will calm things? That primal scream for justice will stay there. I think it would start to move us forward but I would be naive to believe it would stop a lot of that.”

5. The administration has backed away some from claims that much of the violence was caused by out-of-state actors.

Walz has said that not only does he believe groups of people from out-of-state — motivated by anarchist or white supremicist politics — have been involved looting and violence, but that they have been involved in more expansive efforts to sow chaos, specifically referencing a denial of service attack on state computer systems Saturday.

Harrington said that there were 25 arrests made by 2 a.m. Sunday in Hennepin County and 30 in Ramsey County. Of those, 20 percent were from out of state, including Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan. Among those arrested were people in cars without license plates, without lights and with windows blackened.

State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that there were 25 arrests made by 2 a.m. Sunday in Hennepin County and 30 in Ramsey County.
Sunday, Walz said that while he still thinks there are infiltrators, there may not be as many as feared. “I think candidly that I want to believe it’s outside more and that might go to the problem we have in saying it can’t be Minnesotans, it can’t be Minnesotans who’ve done this,” Walz said. “The catalyst that started all of this was the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota and that was our problem. In saying there were outside forces is not to deflect and pretend we don’t have that.”

6. Walz and the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul are concerned about the state’s reputation.

These briefings are being carried live on cable networks and being watched across the country. That might explain the long soliloquies that open them, with Walz explaining the ongoing issue of police misconduct, the anger it has caused and how Minnesotans are trying to respond.

“Many of you across the world may be getting your first look at who we are,” Walz said Sunday. “And that’s unfortunate, but it’s real. And we’ll take that look.” 

He then noted the high ranking of the state’s public schools, a state with lakes “so pristine and clear that some are 40-feet deep and you can see the bottom and drink from them.”

He said that the ore mined here built the country and the agricultural products fed millions. He noted the presence of many Fortune 500 companies and the Mayo Clinic. “We innovate and we’re passionate people,” he said. 

But he then noted that many of the superlatives of educational achievement, home ownership, life expectancy and personal income only apply to white residents. “But if you take a closer look and peel it back, as this week has peeled it back, all of those statistics are true if you’re white,” he said. “If you’re not, we rank near the bottom.”

Likewise, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said it is important to acknowledge both the positive and the negative “in talking about who we are and seeing who we are.”

“For those of you who are seeing Minneapolis for the first time, you saw us at five minutes of our worst followed by a week of great difficulty,” Frey said. “However I also want you to see some of the positives.” 

He said Saturday featured a peaceful demonstration as well as neighbors helping clean up the debris from the overnight riot. And he complimented the many who abided by the curfew.

7. Jay-Z wanted to talk

Walz said he got a text from Van Jones, a CNN news commentator and attorney, who said Jay-Z wanted to talk. “He called and I said again, it was so incredibly human,” Walz said. “It wasn’t Jay-Z, international celebrity. It was a dad and quite honestly a black man whose visceral pain” was being expressed.

“’Justice needs to be served here,’” Walz said he was told. “He knows that the world is watching. How Minnesota handles this is going to have an impact across the country. He was passionate, he was gracious, he was grateful.”

Comments (32)

  1. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 05/31/2020 - 08:31 pm.

    We might not be getting any major events for a few years, that does seem to be true.

  2. Submitted by lisa miller on 05/31/2020 - 10:16 pm.

    Oh good Lord, pollution in the lakes have increased, schools while better than most states have issues in regard to test scores and other areas and we have more air quality alerts along with some crime concerns. Compared to a number of states, we do better, but let’s take a few minutes to stop selling the place and acknowledge the problems.

  3. Submitted by Joe Smith on 06/01/2020 - 07:04 am.

    The leaves are green, flowers are blooming, grass is growing and hundreds of businesses are still burnt, looted and ruined. I guess all is good in Minnesota. After seeing the Twin Cities turn into a lawless free for all for multiple nights, how could anyone claim the authorities were heavy handed in trying to reinstate the rule of law?
    Leadership should have learned lessons from Ferguson, Baltimore and every other city that allows peaceful protesters to turn into lawless rioters. ANTIFA is not a black or white organization, it is a chaos chasing group of people hell bent on destruction. Once they get involved, you had better have a plan, Twin Cities did not have that plan.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/01/2020 - 10:07 am.

      How do you know antfa was responsible, or even solely responsible? Apart, that is, from the declarations of the Great Helmsman?

      • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 06/01/2020 - 11:01 am.

        Right-wing and MAGA social media is full of people claiming that ANTIFA is behind all the vandalism and arson in recent days. Of course they have no evidence for this, but that doesn’t stop them. It never does.

        I think the impulse to blame ANTIFA comes from:

        1. A reflexive desire for simplistic singular explanations. In prior generations and alas still to this day you’ll find reactionaries claiming communists are behind every social change they don’t like from interracial marriage to same sex marriage to feminism to climate change activism. A mind numbing syllogism similarly applies to ANTIFA: “Hey there’s someone in the street doing some activist thing. That must be ANTIFA!” (How do you know?) “Because ANTIFA does activist street thingies.”

        2. Sympathy or even agreement with white supremacists and various alt-right riffraff.

        3. Believe-anything conspiracism and inability to construct minimally accurate models of reality. An example. I came across a tweet the other day claiming that George Soros was coordinating with ANTIFA.

    • Submitted by Richard Owens on 06/01/2020 - 10:09 am.

      Here are a few shots of the protesters from yesterday. I looked through them and didn’t see a single extreme leftist. Look and see if you can find any.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/01/2020 - 10:13 am.

      “Leadership should have learned lessons from Ferguson, Baltimore and every other city”

      And that lesson would be firing the racist, head knocking, belligerent cops that create these situations.

      After Chauvin, the single most complicit individual in all of this is Bob Kroll. The MPD union leader who stood proudly next to a President who ripped MN minority immigrants in in his speech and previously told us about “good people” in a crowd of white supremacists and urged cops not to be too gentile in their arrest procedures.

      Over the next year disband the MPD. Reinvent it as 7 separate departments, one per high school area. Cops may re-apply to the department of their choice. Provide housing incentives and hiring incentives if they live in the area they work.

      • Submitted by tom kendrick on 06/01/2020 - 11:56 am.

        Great idea, Edward. The only thing I would change in your proposal is to say that cops MUST live in the districts (precincts) they serve. Abolish the MPD and start over. We could be a model for police reform everywhere.

        By the way, has anyone ever noticed that some years ago the MPD removed their slogan of old, “To Protect and to Serve” from their cars? No wonder. Your whole idea of starting over should start with that motto being embraced. THAT is the starting point to anything worthwhile for Minneapolis.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/01/2020 - 04:39 pm.

          Agreed, and as long as we are at it the second biggest issue in the city are the public schools: Break them up into 7 separate districts, all organized around a high school. Here is what Nashville does in high schools to encourage law enforcement careers:

          Criminal Justice and Correction Services
          The Criminal Justice and Correction Services program of study prepares students for a range of careers in law enforcement, crime scene analysis, forensic science, public safety, and criminal justice. Course content emphasizes procedures and laws governing the application of justice in the United States, from constitutional rights to crisis scenario management and the elements of criminal investigations. Upon completion of this program of study, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skill preparation for postsecondary or career opportunities in many law- and justice-related fields.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/01/2020 - 10:44 am.

      Nonsense. Antifa is not burning minority-owned businesses. These are right-wing terrorists.

      • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 06/01/2020 - 11:13 am.

        That is simply false. These people are all left wing. The Governor needs to admit he was wrong about it being white supremacists etc because to date not a single one has been found or arrested for rioting. The Governor is inciting people by making such irresponsible claims. The extreme majority have been from MN.

        • Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 06/01/2020 - 12:44 pm.

          Bob..word on the street is that there were a lot of right wing extremists causing problems…

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/01/2020 - 01:10 pm.

          What is your evidence for saying they “are all left wing”? You want to believe it, but do you have any real evidence for that?

          Incidentally, just because a person is from Minnesota does not meant hey can’t be a right-wing extremist.

        • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 06/01/2020 - 01:13 pm.

          “These people are all left wing.”

          Perhaps it escaped your attention that you absolutely cannot know this to be the case or not.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/01/2020 - 01:35 pm.

          No, you have to admit you are wrong, Bob. You are just making things up.

          BTW, on another thread I posted your quote from a few weeks ago about how the models were wrong and there was no way Minnesota would have 1,000 Covid deaths by the end of may. Sadly, you were wrong about that one too.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/01/2020 - 11:09 am.

      Interesting to note that while local officials pointed to “outside forces” as having leading role in the violence, none called out ANTIFA and some mention was made about white supremacists in the local media reports.

      Look it up…

      Trump and Barr cited local media as their source for the “far left, ANTIFA” influence with no mention of white supremacists.

      More “fake news” manufactured at the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. fake news factory to fit its’ needs.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/03/2020 - 10:30 pm.


  4. Submitted by Richard Owens on 06/01/2020 - 10:38 am.

    This Guardian article claims the violence was ALL coming from police.

    Minneapolis has a long history of police brutality. They have employed officers who seemed to enjoy laying a beating on people for nefarious reasons linked to traffic stops and “drug raids”. Mpls is known for paying out big settlements for a few cops’ out-of-control behavior.

    It’s a hard job to do even without having some of your fellow officers making trouble and bullying citizens they should be protecting. The system still quakes in the face of the police union, and despite one belated arrest the resistance to charge the other 3 is very telling of their power.

    Meanwhile, Republican leaders have done nothing that I can see to address the bullying of Black people by their own police employees. Instead, like the familiar Republicans here, they seek to turn events to their legislative success by dissing the response.

    IMHO, we surely don’t need politicians to divide us further. Blaming and shaming the mayors and governor while pretending that a Republican response would have stopped arsonists is naked (R) self-interest.

    It is a legitimate question for MN pols: Will you help us make Black Lives Better in MN? Or will you take every opportunity to seek more power and more tax cuts for your rich friends who never get beaten or killed by police?

    I for one am proud of the response by the mayors, the governor, the organizers and the people of the Twin Cities who are fed up with brutality, inequality and Trumpism itself.

    Until Republicans clean up their act, their approach to public health and human rights will be just more ugly examples showing them to be anti-government and unfit to govern.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 06/01/2020 - 11:40 am.

      There is one common thread in cities where the worst violence seems to be happening is in cities that have been run by liberals for several to many decades. But instead of voting in people as mayor and to their councils, there have been more and more activists that go further and further left whose power actually thrives from the downtrodden. But they have done nothing to help solve the problems. Heck, even Ellison junior endorses Antifa.

      So if you want to play the Dem v GOP playbook, you gotta call it as it is. Walz is a pacifist who waited too long for Frey to do something when he should have realized that Frey had zero clue and was in way over his head. Frey has continued an ever Minneapolis mayor record of making the police the enemy and has shown he does not have the kanunas to protect citizens.

      Alienate the PD and they are going to fight back. Mix in the bad culture of the Mpls PD and bad things happen. Until the city and state has leaders that can make tough decisions, horrific events where the people suffer are sadly not going to stop.

      • Submitted by Richard Owens on 06/01/2020 - 12:54 pm.

        Bob. The mayors of both cities are Democrats because their citizens vote for city leaders they want. Why should they vote for more authoritarian politics when the mis-use of power is the issue?

        The Mpls PD has a long history you completely ignore while blaming two pretty good mayors (one the son of a PD leader).

        OBVIOUSLY the problem began with police brutality. It’s not the first time for MPD. They’ve paid lots of lawsuit settlements for bad cops.You blame the wrong people.

        Ask yourself: “who polices the police?” (Not mayors)

        Go read the Guardian article. You missed the point.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 06/01/2020 - 01:09 pm.

        Yep lots of liberals in Louisville, but hey why not. Strange how all the places where people actually want to live, as opposed to those slowly dying off as they are unable to offer their children anything but continued economic ruin are liberal cities. But hey maybe will white rural America will be anything but an economic wasteland sometime THIS century…

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/01/2020 - 01:37 pm.

        The police union is run by a white supremacist. A police officer murdered a black man in the street in broad daylight. Making the police the enemy?

  5. Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/01/2020 - 10:46 am.

    “In a video that captured the incident, Floyd is heard telling Chauvin he can’t breathe and bystanders can be heard urging Chauvin and three other officers at the scene to relent and help him. The 46-year-old Floyd later died, sparking widespread condemnation and five days of protests in Minnesota and around the world.”

    Later died? He didn’t die later. He died right there on the street with a cop’s knee on his neck.

  6. Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 06/01/2020 - 11:59 am.

    I second Pat Terry’s precision about when Mr. Floyd died: He lost his pulse more than three minutes before Chauvin took his knee off Mr, Floyd’s neck, The EMTs knew he had had no pulse for minutes before they pulled him into the ambulance [i.e., the man was already dead], and the oft-quoted mistake “He died later,” reflects only an official–and grossly inaccurate in reality–time of death, as recorded.

    Also: The two middle-aged white guys, masked (one with a full-fledged gas mask) that I saw in photo and video either hammering windows to smithereens, or re-lighting a building fire that had somehow died out, were not at all “antifa” agitator. They were both too old, too calm, too focused on their one task at hand, and too briefly on scene–true protesters don’t immediately disappear from the scene, and they tend to get arrested.

    And that’s important: The possible “outsiders” among those our governor and mayors were counting are, so far, only those who are among those arrested. We don’t know how many outsiders simply did their dirt and drove away. My bet? White supremacists are among these rats.

    The mayors and the governor originally were relying on statements made to them by local minority organizers, who kept saying “Who ARE these people?” because they’d never been part of Twin Cities anti-racist actions, and were strangers to organizers.

    • Submitted by Elsa Mack on 06/01/2020 - 02:25 pm.

      Thanks to you and to Pat for pointing this out. I have been dismayed to see this line repeated about how George Floyd “later died.” No, he was later pronounced dead at the hospital, but everything I’ve read says that Floyd was unresponsive and had no pulse when EMTs arrived, and never responded to their efforts to revive him. Floyd died under Derek Chauvin’s knee and it’s disturbing how news reports still obscure the fact.

  7. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 06/01/2020 - 01:38 pm.

    One of the more interesting interviews on WCCO on Sunday was with the guy who pulled the driver out of the fuel semi. He described how a Mpls squad car pulled up with a male and female cop who arrested the driver and were very professional and appreciative to the crowd for apprehending the driver. Moments later another Mpls squad car pulled up and the cops bailed out and started macing everyone unprovoked.

    Another example of the fact that within the Mpls Police Department (and probably most others), there are good cops and not so good cops. The encouraging thing is that many of the people in the demonstrations recognize this.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/01/2020 - 02:53 pm.

      There are good cops. The problem is that a majority of them elected a guy like Bob Kroll to head the union. From that I would infer that a majority of cops in Minneapolis are bad cops. They can prove me wrong by removing Kroll.

  8. Submitted by Robert Ahles on 06/01/2020 - 05:20 pm.

    The death of George Floyd was terrible and should not have happened and I fully support peaceful protests. However, young black men have been killing each other for years in both Minneapolis and St. Paul as you hear about it on news casts almost every week if not daily. Where is the rage and protests when these young black males kill each other so frequently? Does BLM only when a video is available and then broadcasted by all the networks?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/02/2020 - 09:13 am.

      The distinction is that George Floyd was murdered by a uniformed police officer who was on duty in his official capacity at the time. he was acting under color of law, with authority granted to him by the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis. Is that a clear enough distinction for you?

      How about the fact that the murder of African Americans by law enforcement is part of a history and pattern of systemic racism? Will that answer your “however”?

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