The Minnesota Legislature reconvened this week in order for Gov. Walz to extend his emergency powers. It is the fifth time he has done so, and also the fifth time that I have voted to end his emergency powers and force him to work with the legislature in good faith. Not surprisingly, House Democrats once again chose to block that effort.
The biggest news of the week, however, was the release of a Senate report on the Minneapolis riots.
The results were damning. According to the report, poor decision-making and delayed reactions by Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey exacerbated damage and violence.
I was one of a number of senators this summer who served on a Joint Committee investigating the Minneapolis riots and the state’s response. We listened intently through hours of expert and witness testimony, examined countless media reports, received hundreds of pages of Freedom of Information Act requests — all of which went into shaping the conclusions and recommendations of the report.
According to the report, Gov. Walz, his administration, and Mayor Frey failed to realize the seriousness of the riots and danger to Minnesotans if the rioters were not confronted and stopped, and even once they arrived at that realization, they failed to act in a timely enough manner. The report found that the destruction of the Third Precinct would not have occurred, and rioting would not have escalated as quickly as it did, had Gov. Walz and Mayor Frey acted faster and more decisively.
There were four main themes that emerged during our investigation:
Failure to Lead: Executive leadership at the state and local level failed to distinguish between demonstrators and rioters. Furthermore, leaders failed to provide the guidance Minnesotans expect from their offices.
Philosophical Conflict Caused a Hesitation to Confront Ideological Allies: Gov. Walz and elected local leaders identified with the causes promoted by the demonstrators, causing them to lose sight of their responsibility to protect the public from criminal acts committed during the riots.
Underestimation of the Escalation and Organization of the Riots: Gov. Walz did not realize the severity of events as they unfolded, resulting in a delayed reaction and increased violence.
Refusal to Confront Criminal Violence with Force: Gov. Walz and Mayor Frey initially chose to negotiate with and appease the rioters rather than give law enforcement the authority to confront criminal acts with enough force to restore law and order. A primary responsibility of the Office of the Governor of the State of Minnesota and local elected officials is to protect the public. Inaction on the part of state and local officials led to an increase in violence.
We know that Gov. Walz and Mayor Frey were caught flatfooted in May. We can’t let that happen again. The only way to improve the state’s response is by evaluating what went well and what didn’t.
That’s why the report also makes a number of recommendations that policymakers can implement to future protests from devolving into lawlessness. These recommendations cover a number of areas, including law enforcement training and equipment; the responsibilities of the governor and city mayors; expectations for the Department of Public Safety; and more. I hope everyone will give the recommendations the full consideration they deserve.
I encourage you to read the entire report at mnsenaterepublicans.com.