MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz has signed an executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard “to help protect Minnesotans’ safety and maintain peace in the wake of George Floyd’s death.” The executive order also declares a peacetime emergency, activating the State Emergency Operations Center.

Protests in South Minneapolis turned violent and destructive Wednesday night near the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct.

“It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect. George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction. As George Floyd’s family has said, ‘Floyd would not want people to get hurt. He lived his life protecting people.’ Let’s come together to rebuild, remember, and seek justice for George Floyd,” Walz said. “As Governor, I will always defend the right to protest. It is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.”

Walz said the National Guard Adjutant General will work to provide “personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover.”

In downtown Minneapolis, a rally is planned Thursday outside the Hennepin County Government Center from 5 to 8 p.m., calling for charges against the officers involved, all four of whom have now been fired.

“The anger and grief of this moment is unbearable. People deserve to be seen. People deserve to be heard. People deserve to be safe,” Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan said. “While many Minnesotans are taking extensive safety precautions while exercising their right to protest, the demonstration last night became incredibly unsafe for all involved. The purpose of the National Guard is to protect people, to protect people safely demonstrating, and to protect small business owners.”

There is also a vigil planned a short time from now in St. Louis Park in memory of Floyd.

There was extensive property damage in south Minneapolis, as protesters upset over Floyd’s death looted businesses, and burned more than a dozen buildings. The Minneapolis Fire Department says it responded to 30 fires that were intentionally set, most along East Lake Street.

Floyd, an unaramed black man, died Monday night after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for more than five minutes during an arrest.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more information.

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