Minnesota governor mobilises National Guard and suggests protests are being manipulated by 'domestic terrorists'

'Cartels are trying to take advantage of the chaos'

David Maclean
New York
Saturday 30 May 2020 17:08 BST
Minnesota governor Tim Walz 'The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd'

The governor of Minnesota is mobilising the state's National Guard after claiming protests over the death of George Floyd had been hijacked by extremists, domestic terrorists and possibly even foreign forces.

"The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd," said Tim Walz, "it is about attacking civil society, instilling fear, and disrupting our great cities."

It followed a night of widespread looting and arson in Minneapolis and nearby St Paul, in defiance of local curfews.

As a result, he called for the full mobilisation of the Minnesota National Guard for the first time in the state's history.

When reporters asked about rumours that white supremacists were secretly infiltrating Black Lives Matter protests and instigating violence, Mr Walz said: "My suspicions and what I've seen on this, yes. It gets worse than that. The cartels, who are wondering if there was a break in their drug transmissions, are trying to take advantage of the chaos. That's why this situation is on a federal level."

The Minnesota Army National Guard is composed of approximately 11,000 Guardsmen.

Mr Walz said the protection of citizens and property is the state's top priority, along with maintaining and restoring civil order on the streets.

The governor said that every resource in Minneapolis was deployed to respond to widespread looting, arson, vandalism and violence on Friday night.

He added that forces in the city would be expanded "exponentially" by Saturday evening.

The state's Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said protests were "bent on destruction of property and bent on trying to hurt people".

Mr Harrington said white supremacists and other violent opportunists have exploited the chaos for their own means.

"Who are they associated with? What platforms are they advocating for?" he said. "Is this organised crime? Is this an organised cell of terror? ... We are in the process right now of building that information network."

The chaos in Minneapolis spread to cities across the nation, including Atlanta, Washington DC, and Oakland.

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