Minnesota Officials Say Most of the People Causing Destruction and Acting Violently at Protests Are from Out of State

A protester carries a U.S. flag upside, a sign of distress, next to a burning building Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night.(Julio Cortez/AP)

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said Saturday that he believed a majority of the people causing destruction during protests over the death of George Floyd in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul came from out of state. According to Walz, officials believe that about 80% of these people are from outside the state. 

“Our best estimate right now that I heard is about 20%, is what we think are Minnesotans, and about 80% are outside,” Walz said at a press conference Saturday. His estimate was echoed by mayors for both cities.

Protests in Minneapolis continued Saturday for the fifth day over the death of Floyd, who was captured on video pleading for air as a police officer kneeled on his neck while he was handcuffed. Four officers have been fired and one, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Protests have erupted in cities nationwide, with some turning violent.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said that every person arrested in his city Friday night was from “out of state.” And, after describing the destruction of businesses and community property in his city, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said: “The people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents.”

“They are coming in largely from outside the city, from outside the region, to prey on everything that we have built for the last several decades,” he said.

Walz used words like “domestic terrorism” and “ideological extremists” to describe what they believe are outsiders working to destabilize the community in the wake of tragedy. John Harrington, Commissioner of Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety, said his office is working to identify these people and understand their motivations.

“We have seen things like white supremacist organizers who have posted things on platforms about coming to Minnesota,” Harrington said. “We are checking to see if the folks that we have made arrests on… are they connected to those platforms?”

In a statement at the Department of Justice on Saturday, Attorney General William Barr said “the voices of peaceful protests are being hijacked by violent radical elements,” adding that the violence appears to be “planned, organized and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups — far-left extremist groups — using antifa-like tactics.”

“Groups of outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda,” he said.

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SOURCE: CBS News, Audrey McNamara