National Guard on standby to assist in Minneapolis

The city has seen recent unrest related to an officer-involved shooting and after a protester was killed by a speeding car


By Liz Navratil, Briana Bierschbach
Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota National Guard is standing by for deployment in Minneapolis to help quell unrest, days after the law enforcement killing of Winston Boogie Smith Jr. and after a protester was killed by a speeding driver.

Gov. Tim Walz's office said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that he "gave the Minnesota National Guard a warning order to start preparing to assist local law enforcement should they need help," after receiving a request from Mayor Jacob Frey.

"The Minnesota National Guard has not been given any operational orders, and as and as of this time their assistance has not been needed," the governor's office said.

This is at least the fifth time since George Floyd's death that the city has asked for assistance from the National Guard. The request came after multiple nights when protesters and city leaders jockeyed for control of intersection of Lake Street and Girard Avenue in Uptown, where there have been daily protests decrying Smith's death.

Protester Deona Knajdek was killed in the zone Sunday when a driver collided with another car being used as a roadblock to prevent vehicles from driving into demonstrations in the middle of the street. The driver was charged with murder.

In a letter to the governor dated Wednesday, Frey said city and state offices have been in close communication "about the ongoing peaceful protests and potential civil unrest around the recent officer involved shooting of Winston Smith in Minneapolis."

"It is my request that the State make Minnesota National Guard assets available to assist in ensuring calm and order throughout the city, without immediately being deployed," the mayor wrote, adding that "preparedness is essential."

The National Guard tweeted Wednesday afternoon that it had "activated" about 100 soldiers. "While the Soldiers are not currently in Minneapolis, they are standing by and prepared to respond if their presence is needed," the guard wrote.

Decisions to bring the National Guard into Minneapolis have proved contentious. During the trial for former officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, some residents welcomed the guard's presence, while others said they felt it escalated already inflamed tensions.

Both Frey and Walz received heavy criticism for the response after Floyd's death last year, with some questioning how long it took to deploy the guard.

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In his letter, Frey wrote that if soldiers are needed, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has asked that they assist law enforcement teams by focusing on protecting property and working traffic posts.

"It is my request that the State make Minnesota National Guard assets available to assist in ensuring calm and order throughout the city, without immediately being deployed," the mayor wrote.

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