GOP report slams Walz for response to George Floyd unrest

A car burns next to Lake Street
A car burns next to Lake Street in Minneapolis after it was set on fire by protesters on Friday May 29, 2020.
Chris Juhn for MPR News

Republicans in the Minnesota Senate are again criticizing DFL Gov. Tim Walz over his response to the civil unrest in Minneapolis earlier this year.

They released a report Tuesday that blamed Walz and Minneapolis Jacob Frey for poor decision making that exacerbated violence and property damage during the rioting that followed the killing of George Floyd.

The report says it took too long to mobilize the National Guard and that arrests were not made in a timely manner.

The release came three weeks before Election Day, but report co-author Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said the purpose was not political.

“I am much more interested in the policies of this than in any kind of political ramifications,” Newman said. “The political ramifications are going to take care of themselves. What I’m interested in is, how are we going to prevent this from happening in the future?”

Walz suggested the timing was political and another example of Republicans trying to talk about law and order rather than COVID-19.

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Walz urged Republicans to work with him rather than against him to improve public safety in the state.

“A one-sided report coming out right before an election isn’t as helpful,” Walz said. “But if there’s helpful advice in there, I’ll certainly take it.”

The report made several recommendations for how to handle future incidents, including the need to equip law enforcement to stop riots before they escalate.

The report was based on a series of hearings that two Senate committees, transportation and judiciary and public safety, held last summer. Newman said another hearing is planned this month to review the report.

The two lead Democrats on the committees, Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, issued a joint statement criticizing the report.

“The one-sided hearings and the resulting report showcases how naïve and out of touch the Senate Republicans are with the root causes of the unrest,” they wrote. “While we condemn the violence, we cannot solve this problem without first acknowledging that racism and unfair treatment exists toward communities of color, and then addressing those issues head-on.”