Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump are bringing President Donald Trump’s law and order campaign message to Minneapolis on Thursday, showing support for law enforcement in the city where George Floyd’s death sparked violent protests across the country.
Pence and President Trump’s daughter planned to host an event with a “Cops for Trump” group, as well as with residents who have been “negatively impacted by crime and violent extremism.”
The visit comes about a month after Donald Trump met with small business owners whose stores in Minneapolis were damaged in the violence that erupted after Floyd’s death.
Trump is eager to put Minnesota in play four years after he narrowly lost the state to Hillary Clinton.
Floyd died after a police officer knelt on his neck on May 25 during an arrest that was captured on bystander video. His death set off nationwide protests and riots.
Property damage in Minneapolis is estimated at roughly $100 million.
After Floyd’s death, a majority of Minneapolis City Council members pledged to abolish the police department. Their hopes of taking the idea to voters in November was blocked by a city commission and won’t happen before 2021, if ever.
The talk of abolishing police came as Minneapolis saw spiking violent crime, as many other big cities did, and as some residents complained that police response times had slowed.
Some of the same council members who supported axing the department pressed Police Chief Medaria Arradondo last week to address the rising crime.
Police union president Bob Kroll did not respond to a message seeking comment for this story. He has complained that city leaders have abandoned rank-and-file officers.
Roughly 175 officers are seeking work-related disability, according to an attorney helping file the claims, with post-traumatic stress disorder being cited as a main reason for most departures.
A Star Tribune analysis found that as of last week, violent crimes such as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults were up 17 percent from the five-year average. Serious assaults, including shootings and stabbings, were up 25 percent.
Belal Hijazi, owner of the Full Stop gas station in north Minneapolis, spent a night protecting his business while others around him burned during the height of the unrest that followed Floyd’s death.
Since then, he said, he’s seen people taking advantage of a reduced police presence to more freely deal drugs, loiter and shoplift around his station.
“If you try to talk to these guys, they show you guns sometimes,” according to Hijazi, who hired an off-duty officer to help with security.
“I’m afraid. I’m stressed. I have a dream to move to a different spot. I have six kids, and they need me.”
Rozenia Fuller, a black pastor at Good News Baptist Church in Minneapolis, called the visit from Pence and Ivanka Trump a “good idea.”
“I think that proximity is everything. I think that they need to be here, boots on the ground, because they are receiving a false narrative about who we really are and what we really want,” Fuller said.
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