Minnesota AG says don't treat National Guard 'the way you might react to' police
Civil and criminal defense attorney Eric Guster weighs in on ‘The Daily Briefing.’
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison cautioned residents on Friday not to treat the National Guard the way they might treat the Minneapolis Police department, with whom they "associate unfair conduct."
Ellison was speaking at a press conference amid riots surrounding the death of George Floyd earlier this week.
"I'd like everyone to recognize the fact that the National Guard just a week ago was administering COVID-19 tests to help people. ... The presence you see on the street, don't react to them the way you might react to the Minneapolis Police Department. It's not the same group," he said.
He continued, "They have different leadership, different authority, and their job is to try to bring peace and calm back again. Please remember that this is not the group that you associate with unfair conduct, but it's a group that in fact just a week ago was trying to make sure that Minnesotans could survive and thrive and live because we are still in the middle of a pandemic."
Ellison, a prominent Democrat, previously represented the state's fifth congressional district, which includes Minneapolis, in the House of Representatives. He also went head-to-head with Tom Perez for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship in 2017.
During his press conference, Ellison also suggested that the riots were a means for people to have their voice heard.
"Martin Luther King [Jr.] said many years ago that riot is the way that the unheard get heard. He didn't condone it, but he said to the nation -- as a person who always protested peacefully -- that don't just dismiss that and ignore it, and relegate it to just criminality and bad behavior," he said.
"Actually ask yourself what's going on there, and is it something that we as a society absolutely must pay attention to? I think we must pay attention to it."
After Ellison's press conference on Friday, authorities arrested Derek Chauvin, the white Minneapolis police officer who pinned Floyd to the ground with his knee on Floyd's neck.
Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the case, which sparked protests across the United States and fires and looting in Minneapolis.
It was not immediately clear whether Chauvin’s arrest would quiet the unrest, which escalated Thursday as demonstrators torched a Minneapolis police station that officers had abandoned.
On Friday morning, nearly every building in the shopping district around the abandoned police station had been vandalized, burned or looted. National Guard members were in the area, with several of them lined up, keeping people away from the police station. Dozens of volunteers swept up broken glass in the street.
President Trump previously threatened to send in the National Guard due to a "total lack of leadership" in the state.
"I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis," Trump tweeted early on Friday.
"A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right."
After the National Guard arrived at the request of the Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors, Trump urged Minnesotans to honor Floyd's memory and admonished more riots.
"Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night ... It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!" he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.