Marlo Safi, DCNF
Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order Friday to activate the state’s national guard ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s upcoming trial, numerous sources reported.
The order will allow for the soldiers to begin preparing security ahead of the March 8 trial, and soldiers could be on the ground in roughly two weeks, a spokesperson for the governor said, according to Fox 9.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin, a police officer at the time, pressed his knee against Floyd, killing him on May 25, while police were investigating whether Floyd used a counterfeit bill at a nearby store.
Democrats and Republicans have been torn over whether Walz should activate additional security given the costs. Walz asked the legislature to approve $35 million that would reimburse local governments whose officers may be dispatched to help with security during the trial, CBS Minnesota reported. The cost of the deployment would come from the general fund.
Republicans, however, expressed that they didn’t want the entire state to be on the hook for the civil unrest, according to CBS Minnesota. In May and early June, hundreds of buildings in the Minneapolis area were vandalized or destroyed, and a police station was set aflame, as riots erupted throughout the city.
Walz has activated the National Guard on several other occasions throughout the past year, including during the riots in May, to help with pandemic-related response, and in January to prepare for potential unrest surrounding President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The executive order is effective the entire year, and would cover the August trials of the three other former Minneapolis police officers, according to Fox 9. It would also be in effect if Chauvin’s trial date is delayed.
The Minneapolis Police Department is down by about 200 officers from where it was in 2019, with at least 139 officers on leave, many of which are taking disability leave after the riots in May. Chief Medaria Arradondo said Thursday that there are about 660 sworn active officers on the streets, according to CBS Minnesota.
A judge determined that Chauvin’s trial would be held in person instead of virtually despite the pandemic, citing “exceptional circumstances” to support holding the hearing in person.
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