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Standing Down

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eye on the news

Standing Down

Progressive politicians watch as Minneapolis burns. May 29, 2020
The Social Order
Public safety
Politics and law

In 2014, shortly after his release from a Texas prison, George Floyd moved to Minnesota for a fresh start. In Minneapolis, he worked as a truck driver and as a security guard at the Conga Latin Bistro, where he was known as “Big Floyd.” A few months ago, he was laid off due to the strict stay-at-home order imposed by the state’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz. Floyd looked for work; it’s unclear if he was eligible for coronavirus-related unemployed benefits.

Bad habits crept back in. Earlier this week, Floyd, apparently under the influence of an intoxicant, attempted to buy a package of cigarettes from a small shop in south Minneapolis with a counterfeit $20 bill. The store’s owner, Mahmod Abumayaleh, called the police. The recorded footage of the arrest showed Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee placed squarely on Floyd’s neck, while Floyd begged for mercy. Floyd, who didn’t resist arrest, died soon after. Chauvin, who was subsequently fired, had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the police department’s internal-affairs division. In a bizarre twist, it appears that Chauvin and Floyd were also once coworkers: they worked security at the same nightclub, and possibly knew each other.

The protests that followed were, initially, peaceful. Thousands packed the streets on Wednesday with signs and calls for Chauvin’s arrest. By that night, however, things turned ugly. “The most shocking thing to me when I was on the ground is realizing just how quickly the emphasis of justice for George Floyd was lost,” observed a reporter for The Daily Caller. “As the evening wore on into the early morning hours, the original crowd of people that was there holding protest signs, doing chants, quickly deteriorated.”

Cars sped around wildly, knowing the police wouldn’t respond. People drank alcohol and smoked marijuana in the streets.

Then the rioters began looting and burning buildings, starting in south Minneapolis but quickly moving to the more-upscale Uptown neighborhood. Rows of businesses and shops on Uptown’s Lake Street were looted and torched. Emergency call logs recorded dozens of “fire events,” and responders were attacked with rocks and other projectiles. A $30 million affordable-housing project was burnt, as was a Cub Foods grocery store. A man looting a pawn shop was shot by the store owner, who was quickly arrested.

Thursday night was even worse. The looting continued in Uptown, where thugs broke into the Apple Store. In a plea to be left alone, store owners posted signs saying that the store was minority-owned. Windows were smashed and stores looted in the Downtown business district. Looting and rioting spread to St. Paul; between Minneapolis and St. Paul, well over 170 stores and shops were looted and destroyed. There were also reports of looting or attempted looting at malls across the Twin Cities.

Most shockingly, rioters took over the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct building and set it ablaze. The police—under orders—retreated from their own headquarters, turning it over to the mob, which attempted to blow it up and burn down the neighborhood. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that the official inaction was motivated by concern for the safety of his officers, the looters, and the protesters. After the night of mayhem, a woman was also found dead in a car near the riot areas, with signs of trauma—the second person to die as the result of the rioting and looting as of Friday morning.

After making initial comments Wednesday, before the looting started, Governor Tim Walz hid from the press for almost a day, refusing even to issue a statement. He said that he had mobilized the National Guard but didn’t formulate a plan until after the second night of looting had begun. In a press conference Friday morning, where Walz announced that he had taken control from local officials, it became apparent that he didn’t even give the order for the National Guard to act until Friday.

Walz blamed his inaction on Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey. Frey—a Democrat who let left-wing rioters run amok when President Trump came to town—shrugged off responsibility and minimized the damage. Clearly the source of the police stand-down order that allowed his own city to burn, Frey kept repeating that the destruction was “just brick and mortar.” After Frey was informed that Walz’s office was taking over, a reporter asked “What’s the plan here? What are we doing?” Frey responded, looking dazed: “With regard to?”

For what it’s worth, every public official responsible for the mayhem is a Democrat—the governor, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and even Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who finally had Chauvin arrested on Friday. And it was current Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar, the former county attorney, who failed to prosecute Chauvin for misdeeds in the past. Democrats collectively run a state that has one of the widest racial disparities in the country in terms of education and income.

Of course, the looters and arsonists aren’t indicative of Democrats, or black Americans, or young people, or any other group. They are a small minority of radicals seemingly licensed to terrorize the rest of us. In the affected communities, both white and black Americans took to the street the next morning to clean up.

Aside from the looters, the people who look the worst are Frey, Walz, and their progressive supporters. At the end of the day, they don’t have any skin in the game. Residents of the neighborhoods being wrecked cowered in fear, with no police in sight. Apartment windows were smashed, and people worried that their homes would be burned. Yet Walz and Frey could afford not to act, because it wasn’t politically convenient and because it wasn’t their businesses, homes, and neighborhoods getting torched. The same goes for many of those from elsewhere who took to Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, CNN, and the blogosphere to defend or justify the looting. They would think differently if their neighborhoods and livelihoods were on the line.

Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

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