The Minnesota National Guard may deploy indefinitely to Minneapolis while the four former police officers involved in the death of George Floyd are on trial in 2021, an ABC affiliate reported Wednesday.
The National Guard’s 12-page plan dubbed “Operation Safety Net” details a worst-case scenario plan where all available state guard forces are deployed for an indefinite amount of time during and after the trials of former Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Keung, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, local outlet KSTP reported.
“It’s very prudent on us to make sure we’re planning for large scale numbers and how we would activate units,” Col. Scott Rohweder said, KSTP reported.
Between the riots and covid, the Minnesota National Guard has worked a combined 106-thousand days this year. Typically, it’s under one thousand. The record setting year has marked a dramatic shift in the role of the guard.
— Ryan Raiche (@ryanraiche) December 18, 2020
If the Minnesota National Guard are deployed again it will be the fourth time in less than 12 months they have been called to respond to civil unrest including protests, riots and looting, according to KSTP. The trial of the four former officers is scheduled for early March and expected to last for eight weeks.
“It is a big deal,” Rohweder said, KSTP reported. “It’s one of those things where we have to be prepared for that kind of operation and change the paradigm of our thinking to make sure that we’re prepared at any moment’s notice to activate that kind of large scale force.”
The Minneapolis Police Department has reportedly been planning for possible unrest since July and will coordinate the multi-agency operation, according to a MPD spokesperson, KSTP reported. A similar number of guardsmen are expected to be deployed as there were over the summer, though they will likely be needed for longer periods of time.
The operational mission is to protect people and property, and some aspects of the plan like positioning equipment and vehicles has already been done, according to Rohweder, KSTP reported.
Chauvin’s lawyer asked the court for the start date to be pushed back so they could have additional time to prepare on Monday, KSTP reported. If the trial sticks to its scheduled date, Democratic Minnesota Mayor Tim Walz could activate the National Guard through an executive order as early as February.
Rohweder referred to the potential executive order as a “warning order,” KSTP reported.
“The actual days and times that we put together, we’ve made it very clear to our forces that May was a great example that we can’t predict the day or time of an event to happen,” Rohweder said, KSTP reported.
“The events in May showed us that we could activate the whole Minnesota National Guard,” Rohweder said, KSTP reported. “That’s what we do in the military, we plan for contingency operations to ensure that we’re ready to provide the support the governor might request.”
Floyd died in MPD custody after Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, video shows.
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