Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has called in the National Guard ahead of the trial of one of the four ex-cops involved in the death of George Floyd, which sparked months of nationwide protests in 2020.
A video of Floyd’s death went viral shortly afterwards, sparking widespread violence which engulfed the city of Minneapolis. The riots saw the destruction of numerous businesses as well as a police station, though they were described by some media outlets as “mostly peaceful protests.” Dozens of people were killed in riots across the country, including retired St. Louis police captain David Dorn, who died protecting a local business.
On Friday, Walz signed an executive order calling in the National Guard, whose duties involve keeping the peace in case of potential unrest, to the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The trial of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, who arrested Floyd prior to his death, is scheduled to begin on March 8.
“The upcoming trials of the former officers involved in the death of George Floyd have raised the potential of civil unrest in the Cities of Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and nearby communities,” Walz said in the order.
“The Mayors of Minneapolis and Saint Paul have requested assistance from the State, including the Minnesota National Guard, to support public safety and security and to prevent or respond to potential civil unrest. In addition to other state resources, the National Guard can supplement local law enforcement efforts to keep the peace, ensure public safety, and allow for peaceful demonstrations,” he added.
Speaking to the Minnesota Star Tribune, Minnesota Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that he’d rarely seen the marshaling of local, state and federal resources to keep the peace ahead of a court trial.
“It’s never happened in my 40-plus-year career where we’ve had to pull together this kind of multi-jurisdictional effort to keep the peace. This is an exceptional time,” Harrington said.
Chauvin is one of four officers charged in Floyd’s death, and faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. In the viral video, Chauvin is seen placing his knee on Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes, as Floyd complains about difficulty breathing. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The other three officers involved in Floyd’s death will be tried later in the summer and have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors charge that the former cops’ methods of restraining Floyd during his arrest caused his death.
Floyd’s toxicology report found methamphetamines and fentanyl in his system. Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed an independent autopsy on Floyd, said that the presence of high quantities of drugs in his system may have caused him to die of a drug overdose, with “no physical evidence suggesting” he choked to death, reported the Daily Wire.
However, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s offices ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, stating that “his death was caused by the police subdual and restraint in the setting of severe hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and methamphetamine and fentanyl intoxication,” according to Fox News.