MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With large sections of Minneapolis and St. Paul still in ruins, the charred question lingers: What took so long in those dark days to get the National Guard on the streets?
Mayor Jacob Frey has consistently said what he told WCCO on June 2.
“I will speak the truth, and the truth is that on Wednesday, around 6 p.m., I called the governor and asked for the National Guard.”
Text messages and emails from the mayor’s office back that up.
But the governor has said the official ask from the city came the next day in a letter. The governor agrees the mayor did call him Wednesday night but here is were the mayor’s and governor’s accounts differ — Walz did not consider the Wednesday phone call a hard ask but more a general ask about potential guard help.
“I don’t think the mayor knew what he was asking for,” Walz said. “I think the mayor said, ‘I request the National Guard, this is great. We’re going to have massively-trained troops.’ No, you’re going to have 19-year-olds who are cooks!”
General Jon Jensen, then the Adjutant General of the National Guard, testified in Republican Senate hearings that only 700 out of 13,000 Minnesota guardsmen and women had training for riots.
“As bad as Thursday night was, I wasn’t quite comfortable with going to the governor and saying, ‘Hey, let’s bring on less-trained soldiers,'” Jensen said.
On the night of Friday, May 29, the guard went with the 700 troops, and the rioting and violence was once again out of control.
On Saturday, May 30, the governor did what had never been done before — the activation of the entire Minnesota National Guard. That put 4,500 troops on the streets on Saturday, and more than 7,000 on the streets on Sunday — when the violence finally eased.
WCCO reached out to Mayor Frey’s office Tuesday, and they sent emails and texts backing up the timing of the Wednesday call.
The governor said repeatedly Tuesday under questioning that he and the mayor are friends, and that Mayor Frey was doing the best he could to support his community.