A dramatic and extraordinary assembly of the state’s top elected officials, faith and community leaders issued emphatic pleas on Saturday for people to stay home as the National Guard prepares to secure the Twin Cities after four nights of looting, arson and destruction.
Overnight, conditions in Minneapolis deteriorated with multiple buildings ablaze and police taking fire as they tried to secure the Fifth Precinct with help from the National Guard. By morning, officials said they suspected much of the mayhem had been caused by organized, armed white supremacists intent on destroying the businesses and key infrastructure.
“We know that the noble, just aims of the protestors are righteous and good,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said. “But we also know that some evil elements are literally infusing themselves with the protest to destroy and cause arson so the whole community has a poor opinion of the protest.”
Joining Ellison was a long list of community leaders, as well as Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Some were visibly shaken as the gravity of this week’s events became clear.
“They’re not part of our state, and they’re coming from the outside,” Klobuchar said.
Other speakers who came together included Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson; Mary Merill; Robert Liligren; Lul Osman; Clarence Castile; Imam Asad Zaman; Bo Thao-Urabe; Justin Terrell.
The community leaders denounced systemic racism that they say has long contributed to inequality and tensions, and said outside criminals were intent on causing destruction.
“We cannot watch our brothers being murdered and, then, on top of that, watch our communities being demolished and then trying to blame us,” said Osman.
Emilia Gonzalez Avalos, executive director of Unidos MN, a nonprofit, spoke about how minority business owners on Lake Street, the heart of the Minneapolis Latino community, sought to defend their livelihoods.
She pleaded with people to stay home and keep their families safe.