Walz’s office says ‘security measures’ around Capitol intended to give protesters space they ‘deserve’

Walz's assertion that protesters need more space may come as a surprise to some Minneapolis residents who have been unable to use certain roads for over a year due to perpetual protest activity.

National Guardsmen stand on the steps of the Capitol during a demonstration in May. (Minnesota National Guard/Facebook)

Minnesota rolled out new safety protocols for state employees so protesters could have “the space they deserve” following last week’s events.

After former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, a letter from Gov. Tim Walz’s office was posted in state office buildings explaining that employees need to deal with new security measures so protesters can have space to demonstrate. The message also seemed to accuse Minnesota law enforcement of actively killing black people.

“True justice for George Floyd only comes through real, systemic change,” the letter begins, before tacitly giving the green light to protests.

“To give our fellow Minnesotans the space they deserve to call for change, we’ve added some additional security measures around the Capitol complex,” the letter continues. “Most properties near the Capitol have extra resources to protect you [state workers] … Roads around the Capitol are closed and all traffic in and out of the complex must go through Cedar Street and Sherburne Avenue.”

Minnesota also erected a $116,000 security fence around the Capitol earlier this month that it’s renting from a contracted company, state records show.

This is the letter posted in the state office buildings.
This is the letter posted in state office buildings.

Walz’s assertion that protesters need more space may come as a surprise to some Minneapolis residents who have been unable to use certain roads for over a year due to perpetual protest activity. Protesters have occupied a significant amount of space around the spot where Floyd was arrested since he died there last year. The area has come to be known as the “Free State of George Floyd” and features borders, guard checkpoints, traffic barriers and a prohibition on most outsiders.

The governor’s letter also took an accusatory tone towards law enforcement, the same people apparently enacting the new security measures.

“Too many black people have lost — and continue to lose — their lives at the hands of law enforcement in our state. Our communities of color cannot go on like this. Our police officers cannot go on like this,” Walz’s message says.

Over the last 20+ years, Minnesota police have killed 55 black people, the overwhelming majority of whom were armed.

Minnesota cops have killed 208 people total since 2000, according to the Star Tribune. This comes out to about 10 per year and 80% of those 208 were armed. Interestingly, of the 29 unarmed deaths, 10 were ruled either “accidents” or “natural deaths.” This means that a coroner determined that the primary cause of death was not force intentionally applied by another person. The 208 tally also includes incidents where individuals committed suicide by forcing the police to kill them.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training has moved to adopt new policies that limit officers’ ability to engage protesters. The proposed policies mirror DFL-initiated reforms that have yet to pass the Legislature, meaning that even if Republicans vote down the measure, it can effectively still be enacted by the board.