Minnesota governor deploys Guard for Chauvin trial security

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gov Tim Walz on Friday authorized the Minnesota National Guard to deploy in preparation for potential civil unrest during the upcoming trials of four former Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd.

The Democratic governor’s executive order authorizes the deployment of an unspecified number of troops in Minneapolis, St. Paul and elsewhere during both the trial of ex-officer Derek Chauvin, which is scheduled to begin March 8, and three other former officers scheduled for trial in August.

Local, state and federal authorities have been preparing for months, fearing a repeat of violence that erupted after protests began in Minneapolis and spread worldwide, leading to a national reckoning over race. Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes even though Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Walz came under Republican criticism last summer for not sending in the National Guard sooner.

“There are some public safety events for which you cannot plan, and there are some for which you can,” Walz said a statement.

The Guard troops will supplement local law enforcement agencies in keeping the peace and ensuring public safety while allowing for peaceful demonstrations. The order leaves it to the state’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, to determine the size, timing and other details of the deployment. The money will come from the state’s general fund.

The order steps up pressure on legislators to authorize funding for local law enforcement agencies from across the state that have been asked to help with security during the trials. Walz has proposed a $35 million State Aid and Emergencies (SAFE) account that would reimburse local governments for providing mutual aid for “unplanned or extraordinary public safety events,” including but not limited to the trials. Republicans pushed back this week, calling the proposal a bailout for poor budget decisions and anti-police sentiment among Minneapolis leaders. They want Minneapolis to foot the bill.

The governor’s statement said the state fund would be a “critical tool” to ensure there are enough officers on the ground. The Guard is not considered a law enforcement agency, so it must partner with police to prevent or respond to any unrest. His office said that will require significant contributions of officers from other cities and counties, which will come at a cost.

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