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Transcript: St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter on "Face the Nation," January 17, 2021

St. Paul mayor on "high alert" for potential unrest
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter says city on "high alert" for potential unrest 05:10

The following is a transcript of an interview with St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter that aired Sunday, January 17, 2021, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to St. Paul, Minnesota, where security at that state capitol has also been increased. The mayor, Melvin Carter, is here with us now. Good morning to you, Mr. Mayor.

MAYOR MELVIN CARTER: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it's good to talk to you again, but we did see the FBI put out a bulletin warning about your city, about your state. You run the Capitol. What exactly are you preparing for?

MAYOR CARTER: You know, we did see that bulletin that put us on a state of high alert that we've been on any ways, as we saw the- we, of course, watched what unfolded in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. The FBI is now telling us they don't see any specific credible threats. But we know that we're in a volatile moment. We know that we have a president who has continued to egg on these extreme radicals to try to take action. And so we have worked very closely with our Minnesota National Guard, with our state patrol and our St. Paul police department to have hundreds of law enforcement personnel on duty, not just to protect our Capitol complex, but our Capitol complex is situated inside a set of diverse and multilingual neighborhoods that deserve that type protection as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the FBI reportedly had specifically cited the Boogaloo movement and members of having gone out and basically cased the state Capitol last month to identify escape points and defensible positions where violence might occur. Have you seen any evidence of organized groups of militias active in your area? Where are they coming from?

MAYOR CARTER: You know, we have seen since Election Day repeated demonstrations at our state Capitol, as well as at our governor's residence that have included several individuals who have chosen that time to show up with rifles and other firearms in a show of- to try to be intimidating frankly. It's unclear how organized they are. It's unclear how much of that is attributable to the Boogaloo Bois or any other kind of specific group. But, again, we're on high alert because of the general volatility. Our FBI is telling us they are tracking those individuals who they think are- may have been kind of presenting those kind of specific threats. And they're at a space right now where we continue to be on a state of high readiness because this moment is just so insane. But they are telling us they feel confident that we're prepared to handle the public safety mission at our Capitol and the surrounding neighborhoods.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You spoke this week about your personal reaction to seeing the Confederate flag dragged into the US Capitol on January 6th. And you said this insurrection was "the blossoming of flowers that have been planted and water very intentionally that existed in our country for a very long time." What are you talking about there?

MAYOR CARTER: Well, we know and I- I- I think back to a decade ago when we were having the discussion of whether America is a post-racial society or not, which hopefully we know now is a ridiculous notion. We know that the- the- the emotions, that the frustrations, that the hatred that we saw pour out in front of our US Capitol just a couple of weeks ago has been simmering underneath the surfaces and my hope is that we as Americans finally take that head on, finally really meaningfully address the legacy of race that we have in our country, the continued impacts of our history of systemic racism and systemic oppression so that we can build a country that really takes seriously the three words that founded our democracy "we the people," meaning all of us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You see that racism specifically is a contributing factor to the insurrection, is that what you're saying?

MAYOR CARTER: I think it's very clear that when we hear people say things like take back our country, it seems to me that they don't understand what America really is, who America really is and who Americans really are. It seems to me that as we've had a large conversation about the double standards of law enforcement that have been on display--


MAYOR CARTER: --as we've seen the bias of one elected leader translate into a completely different treatment of people who came out to say--


MAYOR CARTER: --that George Floyd never should have been murdered versus people who come out, rallied by our president, to try to literally overthrow the Capitol of the United States. We have seen the impacts of race in our country over the last year--


MAYOR CARTER: --in ways that I am hopeful that we can no longer deny.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly on COVID, your governor accused the Trump administration about lying regarding vaccine doses. Minnesota has fallen behind in being able to distribute what they do have. Do you, as mayor, need to take control of that, as 37 other mayors around the country are asking to get a direct line of supply?

MAYOR CARTER: You know, we're fortunate that we have a strong relationship with our governor here in Minnesota. We've been working closely on the COVID response. We worked closely to get National Guard troops mobilized for this weekend.


MAYOR CARTER: And so we're working closely on this crisis. It does create a significant challenge.

MARGARET BRENNAN:  So you don't need to take control?

MAYOR CARTER: It's another proved point that the president will be dangerous until the moment he leaves office.


MAYOR CARTER: And we're working, we're scrambling. Our health care providers are working hard--


MAYOR CARTER: --to develop a Plan B so that we can move forward as a state.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Mr. Mayor. Good luck to you. Thank you for your time this morning.

MAYOR CARTER: Thank you very much.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're going to be right back with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. Stay with us.

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