Pence meets with 'Cops for Trump,' visits damaged business in Minneapolis

A man in a suit stands and waves.
Vice President Mike Pence waves to an audience as he arrives at a "Cops for Trump" listening session inside of the Intercontinental Hotel at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated: 6:59 p.m.

There’s no letup in the presidential campaign attention being paid to Minnesota.

Vice President Mike Pence paid another visit to Minnesota Thursday, his second in the last two months. Pence stopped by a business on West Broadway in Minneapolis that burned in the unrest following the police killing of George Floyd in May.

He then addressed the invitation-only gathering billed as “Cops for Trump,” held at a Minneapolis-St. Paul airport hotel. President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, also joined Pence on the stop.

"There's no excuse for what happened to George Floyd and justice will be served,” Pence said. “But there's not excuse for the rioting, and looting and violence that ensured. And those that engaged in acts like these will be held accountable to the full extent of the law."

The owner of Flora’s Hair Designs, Flora Westbrooks described learning the probable fate of her shop after she was told her son’s business was in flames two doors down.

“It was horrible to stand there and see your business burn, everything you worked for,” Westbrooks said.

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Hours before the vice president’s visit, Gov. Tim Walz authorized the mobilization of 100 Minnesota National Guard soldiers to provide support to local law enforcement during the event. The activation of the Guard came after a request from the city of Minneapolis, the governor’s office said.

"Out of an abundance of caution for the safety of Minnesotans, we have asked the Minnesota National Guard to assist in keeping the peace," Walz said. 

The Democratic nominee for vice president, Sen. Kamala Harris, has been announced as the keynote speaker for the DFL Party’s annual Humphrey Mondale Dinner on Oct. 1. It will be a virtual event due to the pandemic.

In TV commercials and speeches, Trump’s campaign and its allies have seized on the civil unrest in Minneapolis, which followed George Floyd’s killing by police in May. 

Police conduct is again in the national headlines after a grand jury in Kentucky declined to lodge direct criminal charges against officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot multiple times by white officers who entered her home during a narcotics investigation in March. Prosecutors said two officers who fired weapons used justified force while a third officer was indicted on endangerment counts for firing into the homes of Taylor’s neighbors in the incident.

Pence has been to Minnesota multiple times this year on both official business and political trips. He was last here in late August when he held a jobs-and-economy themed event in Duluth.