Minnesota Governor Fires Back After Minneapolis Mayor Accuses Him of Ignoring Riot Warnings

In response to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's criticism that the state hesitated to act urgently during the city's riots in late May, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Tuesday the mayor had a "misunderstanding" of what was required prior to activating the National Guard.

"I don't think the mayor knew what he was asking for," Walz said at a briefing on Tuesday. "I think the mayor said, 'I request the National Guard, whew, this is great. We're going to have massively trained troops.' No. You're going to have 19-year-olds who are cooks."

"I asked, what do you want out of the Guard? It's not like pulling a can out. What units do you want? What do their capabilities need to be? How are you going to deploy them," he added.

Walz's remarks come after Frey blamed the governor for failing to take his requests for help seriously. In a Monday interview with the Star Tribune, Frey said Walz hesitated to send troops when the city was being burned down amidst civil unrest following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

"We expressed the seriousness of the situation. The urgency was clear," Frey said.

Tim Walz
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tours damaged buildings in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 5, 2020 following the city's civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd's death. Waltz fired back at Mayor Jacob Frey on Tuesday after Frey said that Walz hesitated in activating the National Guard during the riots in late May. Stephen Maturen/Stringer

Frey said he immediately called Walz after Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo informed him riots began around the Third Precinct and the nearby Target store was being looted.

"Through an extremely difficult situation, I told the truth," Frey said. "I relayed information as best I could to state partners. And we did what was demanded for the sake of our city."

Following his verbal request for troops, Frey submitted a written request writing, "The ongoing situation is well beyond the capability of our police and fire departments to respond."

Documents released by the Minneapolis showed that Arrandondo formally and specifically asked for 600 guardsmen on May 27—24 hours before the Third Precinct burned down.

However, state officials said Frey did not provide enough information for the state to deploy the National Guard.

By the time the Guard was activated at 2:30 p.m. the next day, many buildings in the area near the Third Precinct had been looted and burned down. Only 90 National Guard soldiers were sent by the state, a statement to the Tribune from Walz's office said.

In a press conference on May 29, Walz declared the city's response to the riots an "abject failure" and during Tuesday's press briefing he defended the decision not to sent the Guard on May 27.

"I think the mayor's recollection (of the early conversations) is correct. But it's his knowledge of what the Guard could actually do, the mission and what it took to do that, is simply not in line with where they're at," the governor said.

Newsweek reached out to Frey and Walz for further comment but did not hear back before publication.

Yesterday, Walz officially announced he requested a federal Small Business Administration disaster declaration to help businesses in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul destroyed or damaged amid the civil unrest to be rebuilt. His previous request for assistance was denied in July.

The state estimates that the current damage caused by vandalism, fire and looting exceeds $500 million and that nearly 1,500 businesses were affected.