Minnesota is seeking millions of dollars from the federal government to clean up after the riots that erupted in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody May 25.
On Thursday, Gov. Tim Walz announced he was seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency cash, noting that the rioting left a trail of more than $500 million in destruction.
“We’re asking our federal partners to step up and help our communities recover,” he said in a news release. “We need to come together to ensure Minnesotans who were victims of this destruction have access to critical infrastructure they need so they can go to the grocery store, pick up their medication, and live their lives. Together, we will rebuild.”
The release said that during the rioting and destruction that raged in Minneapolis and surrounding communities, the state called on more than 10,000 law enforcement personnel to try to restore order and the Minnesota National Guard was fully mobilized for the first time since World War II.
“Nearly 1,500 Twin Cities businesses were damaged by vandalism, fire, or looting,” the release said, referring to Minneapolis, the epicenter of the rioting, and nearby St. Paul.
Walz, a member of the state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, wants President Donald Trump to “declare a major disaster for the State of Minnesota because of extensive fire damage to public infrastructure caused by civil unrest.”
He had bemoaned the level of destruction even as the riots, which began on May 26, were taking place.
“Over the last 72 hours these people have brought more destruction and more terror to Minnesota than anybody in our history. That’s who we’re up against,” Walz said May 30, according to KARE-TV.
However, at the time, rioters had the sympathy of others in his party.
“What we’ve seen over the last two days … is the result of so much built-up anger and sadness,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said May 29, according to NBC News. “Anger and sadness that has been ingrained in our black community, not just because of five minutes of horror, but 400 years.”
“If you’re feeling that sadness and that anger, it’s not only understandable, it’s right,” he said.
Frey and Walz have been saying for weeks they planned to ask the federal government for money to repair damage from the riots.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune noted that Baltimore had sought FEMA funding after the riots that followed the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody. No funding ever materialized.
Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum said Minneapolis needs to prove that outside forces instigated the riots and the violence did not flow from its citizens.
“If it is demonstrated outside provocateurs committed acts of destruction, then there is a clear rationale for an emergency declaration by President Trump,” she said.
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose district includes the city, said Minneapolis is owed federal aid.
“We have a moral responsibility to help communities heal economically,” she said in a statement. “Minneapolis’s economy has been ravaged. Families are struggling to find places to buy food, local shop owners fear they’ll never [be able to] open their doors again, and many workers find themselves without a job to return to.”
Omar said the damage was not the fault of the rioters.
“The situation facing our city stems from a long history of discrimination, prejudice and violence in the community,” she said. “It is no less worthy of federal relief than communities facing natural disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But we cannot rely on a Presidential Emergency Declaration to help direct FEMA resources to riot relief. Our current President has proven we cannot depend on such intervention. So Congress must step in.”
There was no word from the White House as to whether the president would consider Walz’s request.
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