Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is preemptively activating the National Guard ahead of February’s trial for one of the police officers who has been arrested in connection with the death of George Floyd.
The governor warned that the trial, which is set to begin on March 8, could lead to “civil unrest” in Minneapolis and the surrounding area, in an executive order on Friday. Walz said he requested assistance from the state to “support public safety and security and to prevent or respond to potential civil unrest.”
Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, while the three other former officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter for their roles in Floyd’s death. All of them have since been fired.
Floyd, 46, allegedly used a counterfeit $20, and when the police attempted to apprehend him, they pinned him to the ground, and Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
“There are some public safety events for which you cannot plan, and there are some for which you can. The upcoming trials of the former officers involved in the death of George Floyd have raised the potential of civil unrest in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and nearby communities,” Walz said in a statement Friday, according to the Star Tribune.
Floyd died afterward, and his death sparked nationwide protests and conversations about police brutality toward minorities and the claim of systemic racism. With an increasing spotlight on police use of force, a number of other incidents have also led to similar protests despite the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protests, some of which turned destructive and violent and left the city with at least $55 million in damages, have led to calls for police reform and have resulted in a reduction in active law enforcement officers. Minneapolis’s police force is down by about 200 officers from early 2020.