MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Senate Republicans continue a series of hearings, looking into who is to blame for the violence and unrest following George Floyd’s death.
The latest revelation Wednesday was that three people could face criminal charges in connection with pulling down the Christopher Columbus statue outside the Capitol in June 10. The cases were presented to the Ramsey County Attorney Tuesday.
Sen. John Jasinski of Faribault and other Republicans railed against the Minnesota State Patrol’s handling of the toppling.
“My district watched what went on and are frustrated, furious, mad, angry,” Sen. John Jasinski of Faribault said.
Col. Matt Langer of the Minnesota State Patrol defended his agency.
“People on this committee are well aware hindsight is so clear, it’s so clear,” Langer said.
He admitted the state patrol had advance notice, but only had one trooper positioned at the site when the members of the crowd threw a noose around the statue’s head. Fifty more troopers were inside the Capitol with chemical agents waiting for orders to disperse the crowd and make arrests.
“If you watch the video you see who is in that group. There’s kids in that group, there’s members of the media in that group, so decisions to use chemical, decisions to use force are very complicated,” Langer said.
They also thought they had more time, but the statue came down unexpectedly fast. John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, says he takes some responsibility.
“That’s a misjudgment on my part, and it’s a misjudgment that I won’t make again, and I know that it’s a misjudgment that Col. Langer won’t make again,” Harrington said.
Langer says looking back, the incident could have been handled differently.
“It’s a fair criticism to say that the individuals you saw on TV should have been arrested that night,” Langer said.
One conspiracy theory about the statue was apparently put to rest at this hearing. Senators asked if anyone “higher up in state government” had ordered the state patrol to stand down and allow the statue to fall. Both Langer and Harrington said that was absolutely not the case.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s office confirms they are reviewing cases against three people for possible charges in the statue toppling. They do not have a timeline for their decision.