Gov. Tim Walz was whisked away by staff after a voter confronted him Wednesday about his handling of the George Floyd riots.
“Why would you let a police station burn to the ground and not send in the troops?” a man asked Walz during the annual Farmfest gathering in southern Minnesota, according to a video captured by independent photojournalist Rebecca Brannon.
“Why would you let a police station burn to the ground and not send in the troops?”
— Rebecca Brannon (@RebsBrannon) August 3, 2022
Walz briefly began to answer the question but was cut off by a staff member who said “we’ve got some folks waiting for us … we should get up there.”
The governor then took a picture with a supporter before walking away.
“He can’t answer that question? You can’t answer that?” the man asked the governor.
The man’s question was in reference to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct building, which was burned down by rioters in May 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd.
Shortly before the confrontation, Walz participated in a debate with Dr. Scott Jensen, his Republican challenger.
“Had I been in the governor’s office, the National Guard would have been on the streets sooner,” Jensen said during the debate. “You and I together recognize that the Third Precinct is a whole lot more than just a building.”
A Minnesota Senate report released in October 2020 describes the governor’s hesitation in activating the National Guard.
“Having monitored social [media] of other electeds today, we need to be very careful with messaging like this as not to be tone deaf or dismissive … or put property above people,” the governor’s office advised in a message sent to staff during the riots, according to the report.
The report suggests that a “philosophical conflict” caused Walz and local leaders to think twice before confronting “ideological allies.”
“Minnesota Gov. Tim 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,” it reads, quoting Walz as saying that an “armed presence on the ground” could be “seen as a catalyst.”
“The Minnesota National Guard was not fully mobilized until four days after the first building was burned,” the report adds.