The Trump administration has rejected Minnesota’s request for federal aid to repair damage inflicted on Minneapolis and St. Paul after the death of George Floyd.
Gov. Tim Walz, a member of the state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, announced earlier this month that he was asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the funds.
Walz noted in a release that “nearly 1,500 Twin Cities businesses were damaged by vandalism, fire, or looting” that took place during violent protests that followed Floyd’s death.
His request included more than $15 million to help local governments respond to costs related to a wave of arsons that took place during the days of rioting. He said the full costs of the damage inflicted by mobs totaled more than $500 million.
A spokesman for Walz made the announcement that the request was denied, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“The Governor is disappointed that the federal government declined his request for financial support,” spokesman Teddy Tschann said in a statement. “As we navigate one of the most difficult periods in our state’s history, we look for support from our federal government to help us through.”
FEMA explained its decision in a statement to Minnesota Public Radio.
“After a thorough review of Minnesota’s request for a major disaster declaration from extensive fire damage as a result of civil unrest in late May and early June, it was determined that the impact to public infrastructure is within the capabilities of the local and state governments to recover from. The governor has 30 days to appeal that decision,” the statement said.
Tschann said the state is “exploring all options.”
The denial came after the White House received a letter from Republican Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota calling for a “thorough and concurrent review” of the response to the rioting so that “every governor, mayor and local official can learn from our experiences” to prevent a similar situation from taking place in the future.
The letter noted that “to date, there has been no federal analysis of the actions that were — or were not — taken by local and state officials to prevent one of the most destructive episodes of civil unrest in our nation’s history.”
“If the federal government is expected to assist in the clean-up of these unfortunate weeks, it has an obligation to every American — prior to the release of funding — to fully understand the events which allowed for this level of destruction to occur and ensure it never happens again,” Emmer wrote.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has noted that Baltimore had sought FEMA funding after the riots that followed the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody. FEMA, then run by the Obama administration, denied Baltimore’s request.
During the spree of violence, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had indicated support for the rioters.
“What we’ve seen over the last two days … is the result of so much built-up anger and sadness,” Frey said on 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.
Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose district includes the city, has said Minneapolis was owed federal aid.
“The situation facing our city stems from a long history of discrimination, prejudice and violence in the community,” she said in a statement. “It is no less worthy of federal relief than communities facing natural disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.