Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order late Thursday to activate the Minnesota National Guard following the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd on Wednesday. President Donald Trump celebrated the National Guard's activation on Twitter after revealing he assured Walz the "military is with him all the way." Trump also appeared to hint at more violence, tweeting, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
Floyd died Monday while in police custody. Video shows police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck for four minutes until Floyd died. Chauvin and three other officers were fired, and Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Following Floyd's death, peaceful protests broke out in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and some turned violent. As a result, the Twin Cities mayors asked Wilz to activate the Minnesota National Guard. Wilz also declared a Peacetime Emergency to "provide safety and protection" to residents. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also declared a state of emergency for the city, reports KTSP.
The National Guard has arrived on the scene. They are in Minneapolis and fully prepared. George Floyd will not have died in vain. Respect his memory!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
The Minnesota National Guard tweeted that more than 500 soldiers were activated following the executive order. "Our mission is to protect life, preserve property and the right to peacefully demonstrate," the Guard tweeted. "A key objective is to ensure fire departments are able to respond to calls." This is the fist time the National Guard was activated for a civil disturbance since the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Army Maj. Scott Hawks, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, told Vox it was not clear how long the deployment will last. All members of the National Guard live in the state and many have day jobs. Hawks said the activated members are "assisting and escorting fire fighters to sites and providing them security as those fire fighters do their work" and "forming lines between protesters and sites that are at risk of being harmed." All 500 members will not be working at the same time. If more are needed, the state can activate another 12,5000 Guard members. The length of the deployment is up to Wilz, who could deactivate them when he feels local police officials have the situation under control.
Trump voiced his support for Wilz's decision to activate the National Guard in a series of tweets late Thursday night. He threatened to send in the National Guard himself to "get the job done right." His second tweet was flagged by Twitter for violating its rules about "glorifying violence," since he included the phrase "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."