President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE on Saturday repeatedly targeted the Democratic mayor of Minneapolis over his response to escalating protests in the city, saying that the National Guard should have been deployed days earlier to control the demonstrations.
The comments from Trump came as protests and violence continued for the fifth consecutive day following the death of George Floyd, 46, a black man who died shortly after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while executing an arrest.
Minnesota Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzJudge rejects Minnesota parents' attempt to force statewide school mask mandate Former Minnesota Senate Republican leader announces campaign for governor Minnesota parents sue Gov. Walz over lack of mask mandate in schools MORE (D) on Saturday authorized the "full mobilization" of the state's National Guard, a move that put approximately 4,100 soldiers and airmen in the Twin Cities. By Saturday night, National Guard soldiers began firing tear gas, paint rounds and rubber bullets at groups of protesters violating the statewide 8 p.m. curfew in Minneapolis, according to CBS 4 Minnesota. Several people were arrested, though officials did not offer a specific number.
"The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democrat Mayor couldn’t do," Trump tweeted late Saturday night, referencing Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. "Should have been used 2 days ago and there would not have been damage and Police Headquarters would not have been taken over and ruined."
"Great job by the National Guard. No games," he added.
The National Guard has been released in Minneapolis to do the job that the Democrat Mayor couldn’t do. Should have been used 2 days ago & there would not have been damage & Police Headquarters would not have been taken over & ruined. Great job by the National Guard. No games!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Protesters breached and burned a Minneapolis police precinct station on Thursday night as tensions mounted in response to the death of Floyd. The episode at the police station and the increased destruction of property in the city caused the Minnesota National Guard to begin mobilizing troops to the Twin Cities area.
Minnesota National Guard Gen. Jon Jensen said Saturday that law enforcement officers were in a “position of strength” compared to earlier in the week when fires raged throughout the city and several stores were raided.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said. “We believe there is the potential for things to pop up, but we have resources that can respond to those and get on things quickly.”
Frey, who has defended the city's response to the protests and riots, has faced repeated criticism from Trump in recent days. Early Saturday morning, Trump tweeted that Frey needed to "get tough and fight." He also said Friday that Minneapolis suffered from a "total lack of leadership."
Frey has dismissed the criticism, saying during a Friday press conference that "weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis."
"Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis," Frey said. "We are strong as hell. This is a difficult time, yes, but you better be damn sure that we’re going to get through this."
Floyd's death caused intense outrage nationwide as well as widespread calls for the officers involved in his arrest to be charged. One Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. Chauvin and three other officers were fired.
Demonstrations continued throughout the nation on Saturday night, sparking escalating tensions between protesters and police.