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Gov. Walz Authorizes National Guard To Provide Public Safety Assistance In The Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order Friday authorizing the Minnesota National Guard to provide public safety assistance in the Twin Cities. While the National Guard members are responding to a request from leaders in St. Paul, the governor said that they'll be ready to help if requested in Minneapolis in the wake of the police killing of Amir Locke.

According to the governor's office, the executive order was issued after the city of St. Paul requested assistance amid the ongoing civil rights trial of three former police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights. That trial is expected to end later this month.

Unlike last year during the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of the murdering Floyd, National Guard members will not be posted throughout the Twin Cities. Instead, they'll only assist local law enforcement if requested. So far, Minneapolis has not issued a request for help.

"The National Guard will be available to help keep the peace, ensure public safety and allow for peaceful demonstrations," the governor said, in a statement.

Tensions between law enforcement and the community are high in the Twin Cities following Locke's death Wednesday morning in downtown Minneapolis. The 22-year-old was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer who was part of a SWAT team serving a "no-knock warrant" in an apartment building. Locke was not the person police were looking for.

Body-camera video of the shooting was released Thursday night. It showed officer Mark Hanneman shoot Locke three times. The Black man was on a couch when officers rushed inside the seventh-floor apartment around 7 a.m. Locke was wrapped in a blanket and holding a gun. Locke, a legal gun owner with no criminal history in Minnesota, was mortally wounded less than 10 seconds after the SWAT team opened the door.

Locke's family and activist groups are calling for Hanneman to be fired, arrested and charged with murder in Locke's death.

Meanwhile, in St. Paul, the trial of the three former Minneapolis officers -- Tou Thao, Thomas Lanes and J. Alexander Kueng -- is expected to continue next week. The trial was delayed this week after one of the ex-officers tested positive for COVID-19.

Following Floyd's death in May 2020, there was days of mass protest and nights of looting and violence in the Twin Cities. Hundreds of buildings were either damaged, ransacked, lit on fire, or burned to the ground. After days of unrest, the National Guard was called in to quell the riots.

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