Walz declares emergency, brings in police backup from Ohio and Nebraska as Chauvin verdict looms

Gov. Tim Walz has declared a state of emergency in the seven-county Twin Cities Metro and is bringing in police backup from Ohio and Nebraska as a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial nears.

"We can’t live like this. We simply can’t. But we can’t have thousands of businesses burned and people put at risk," Walz said at a Monday evening news conference when asked about the security strategy.

Walz and the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul said they would not order curfews for the entire week as the verdict looms. Curfews are likely on the city level on a day-by-day basis, not preemptively, a spokesman for the governor later said.

Walz is also asking the state Legislature to free up millions of dollars in emergency security funding.

Monday afternoon, the Minnesota Senate quickly passed $9 million in emergency funding to deal with unrest in the Twin Cities, with Republicans saying it was needed to keep the peace.

Democrats who control the Minnesota House did not immediately say if they would take up the same legislation Monday. Some House Democrats have opposed police funding earlier this session without additional police accountability measures, and Walz acknowledged it would be a "pretty hard" vote for them.

The Senate bill, which passed 48-19, includes $2.75 million to reimburse other states that send troopers into Minnesota.

The measure also includes $6.3 million to pay Minnesota State Patrol trooper overtime and other costs associated with the massive deployment to the Twin Cities. Troopers have been sent to Brooklyn Center after the police killing of a Black man, Daunte Wright, last week. There is also a heavy presence in Minneapolis and St. Paul for the end of the Derek Chauvin murder trial this week.

"This is to make sure the police have resources they need to make the streets safer for all of us," said Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake.

In a statement, House Speaker Melissa Hortman said she has agreed to move civil unrest emergency funding in the House but said discussions were ongoing.

"We need sufficient law enforcement personnel to respond if individuals again seek to take advantage of any civil unrest to commit criminal acts," said Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park. "At the same time, I remain concerned that individuals must have the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and to provide media coverage of public events."

During Monday's floor debate, Senate Republicans defeated an attempt by Democrats to tighten restrictions on how police can respond to civil unrest. Some Democrats and activists have fiercely opposed police use of tear gas and other munitions over the past week.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is considering whether to address the nation once a verdict is read, the Associated Press reported.

Walz said he had not spoken with the president but said it would be "helpful" if Biden addressed the country to ask for calm. Other states are also seeing unrest, the governor noted.