Walz signs executive order calling up National Guard to Minneapolis for Chauvin trial

Gov. Tim Walz has signed an executive order calling up the Minnesota National Guard to Minneapolis ahead of the March trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd.

The Guard deployment will be "significant" and soldiers could be on the ground in about two weeks, a Walz spokesman said ahead of the governor's announcement. Chauvin's trial is scheduled to start March 8.

The spokesman compared the move to Gov. Mark Dayton's activation of the Guard before the Super Bowl in 2018, in that the deployment will not be immediate but in coordination for a scheduled event. The National Guard has already been working with the Minnesota State Patrol, Hennepin County and Minneapolis Police for weeks.

The executive order covers the entire year, meaning it would be in effect if the Chauvin trial is delayed. The order will also cover the trials of three other ex-police officers, which are scheduled for August.

Walz is also asking state lawmakers to create a $35 million account to pay for outside police help in Minneapolis during the trials, though the proposal has gotten a chilly reception among Republicans who want Minneapolis to foot the bill for mutual aid.

Minneapolis is down 200 officers from 2019, with only about 640 available officers currently, Mayor Jacob Frey said this week. At least 139 are on leave, with many taking disability leave in the months since the riots following Floyd's death, according to city payroll records.

In addition to the National Guard, the Walz administration has planned to send 600 state law enforcement officers to Minneapolis, including state troopers and Natural Resources officers. 

Yet state public safety officials have said hundreds more are required. Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said this week he was "very confident" the state would hit its target before the Chauvin trial.

At issue is how other cities will be reimbursed for sending police into Minneapolis. Senate Republicans countered Walz's $35 million proposal with legislation cutting Minneapolis's local government aid funding to repay cities that provide police help.

Guard soldiers must be paired with law enforcement because soldiers don't have arrest power.