Walz appeals federal government’s riot relief rejection

Nearly 1,500 businesses were vandalized, looted, or burned during the late May riots.

Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that he has appealed the Trump administration’s decision to deny a request for federal financial assistance to help Minneapolis rebuild from rioting.

Walz requested a disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on July 2, but the request was denied eight days later. FEMA assistance would reimburse local governments for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and damage to public buildings, Walz’s office said.

Under the Stafford Act, fires to public infrastructure, regardless of cause, are eligible for reimbursement, Walz claimed. A damage assessment found more than $15 million of eligible damage directly related to fires, but that’s just a sliver of the estimated $500 million in total damage across the Twin Cities.

“As we navigate one of the most difficult periods in our state’s history, the need for support from our federal partners is more important than ever,” Walz said in a statement. “The magnitude of this event was severe, and Minnesotans are hurting. We are asking our national leadership to join us in our efforts to help our communities to recover.”

Nearly 1,500 businesses were vandalized, looted, or burned during the late May riots. The governor has also requested a U.S. Small Business Administration disaster declaration, which would free up low-interest loans for property owners.

“Many community cornerstones were damaged or destroyed in the civil unrest following the murder of George Floyd,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan commented. “We are committed to helping rebuild and restore these spaces that are more than just businesses – they are the core of the community.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer said he has asked the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to investigate “how half of a billion dollars in damage was done without an appropriate response from our local leaders.”