The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody sparked violent protests across the nation, with the torching of the Third Precinct headquarters in Minneapolis serving as the symbolic epicenter.
After a week of arson, looting and peaceful protest, Gov. Tim Walz got on a governors’ call with President Donald Trump, a vocal critic of the city’s initial handling of the disturbances. Trump called the governors “weak” and said they need to be more aggressive and “dominate” unruly protesters.
A partial transcript of their exchange, obtained by the Daily Beast, provides the exact words the Minnesota governor used to defuse the president’s ire:
Trump: “I know Gov. Walz is on the phone and we spoke, and I fully agree with the way he handled it the last couple of days. I asked him to do that. He had a lot of men ...”
Walz: “Thank you, Mr. President, I want to give a thank you to [Defense] Secretary [Mark] Esper and General [Mark] Milley for your strategic guidance. Very helpful. Yeah, our community is grieving and in pain, and I would just say as far as the [inaudible] the peaceful protesters were expressing an outrage that is real. They witnessed eight minutes of a man dying in front of them. …
“That part of it then of course sparked civil unrest … and once that started to spin, the idea that when you saw this happen the first few days, I don’t believe anybody would have had a big enough force to do this …
“But we mobilized … about 750 to 1,000 is what we could get of National Guard on the scene. It was one of our biggest mobilizations in our state’s history … and we were still overwhelmed. At that point in time I just took the next step, I mobilized the entire Minnesota National Guard …
“And here our problem is going to be, if we cannot maintain this posture, we do not have the resources to maintain this posture, and we’re going to have to transition back …”
(Walz then speaks to the need for engaging the community and working for police reforms.)
Trump: “But Tim, it shows the incredible difference between your great state yesterday and the day before compared to the first few days which was just a [inaudible].”
Walz: “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
Trump: “And I don’t blame you. I blame the [Minneapolis] mayor [Jacob Frey]. I mean I’ve never seen anything like it. Where the police were told to abandon the police house and it was ransacked, and really destroyed. Millions of millions of dollars are going to have to go back to fix it.”
Walz: “I spent 24 years in the Guard. The one thing I would say we should do is make sure that it’s not seen as an occupying force. It’s their neighbors, schoolteachers, business owners, those type of things. That’s a really effective message.”
Trump: “OK good, I think that’s a really good idea. It got so bad a few nights ago that the people wouldn’t have minded an occupying force. I wish they had an occupying force in there.”
Friday: The Minnesota Legislature returns for a special session triggered by an extension of Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers.