Gov. Tim Walz is marshaling law enforcement help from other states and asking the Legislature for more funding as the state juggles the conclusion of the Derek Chauvin trial and tensions over the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.
The extra "surge capacity" of law enforcement is necessary to be prepared for a verdict in the trial, officials said Monday, after deploying unexpected resources last week to respond to protests in Brooklyn Center, where Wright was killed.
"We cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos. We must protect life and property," Walz said, but he added state leaders must also listen to communities in pain and people on the streets, "many of whom were arrested for speaking a fundamental truth that we must change, or we will be right back here again."
Chauvin faces murder charges in the death of George Floyd last May, which sparked widespread unrest and destruction of buildings.
The Senate passed $9 million in emergency funding on Monday. It includes nearly $2.8 million to pay for highway patrol help coming from other states, while another $6.3 million would cover extra costs in Minnesota.
"Tensions are still really high. There's a lot of emotion involved," said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake. "But the streets are safer. The buildings aren't burning, the businesses aren't destroyed."
State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said during a news conference Monday that officials reviewed the needs of Operation Safety Net, which is law enforcement's long-planned coordinated response to the Chauvin trial, and the response to protests in Brooklyn Center.
"We've exhausted local resources in the current plan we had been building, and the realization was that we needed additional resources," Langer said. They expect 128 state patrol members from Ohio and Nebraska to come to Minnesota to help provide security around critical infrastructure.
"Our hope is that we don't need them at all," Langer said, adding that they're planning for "the absolute worst and then make darn sure we're doing everything we can to realize that never happens."
But the funding, which passed on a 48-19 vote in the Senate, faces an uncertain future in the House, where some Democrats have expressed growing frustration over tactics like tear gas and rubber bullets used by law enforcement on protesters and journalists in Brooklyn Center.
"We know that some individuals took advantage of the civil unrest last year to engage in criminal activities that destroyed livelihoods and neighborhood resources, and we need sufficient law enforcement personnel to respond if individuals again seek to take advantage of any civil unrest to commit criminal acts," House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement. "At the same time, I remain concerned that individuals must have the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and to provide media coverage of public events."
Democrats in both chambers also called on Republicans to take up police accountability measures that have so far been stalled in the Senate. Rep. Carlos Mariani, the chairman of the House Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee, said he has told the Walz administration that for many House members, approval of the funding will be contingent on Walz's "clear public support" for police reform and movement on the policing changes.
Mariani said despite the "horrible behavior" of law enforcement, particularly against the press, he is open to the funding request if Walz is a leader on reform. "I and ninety percent of my caucus are the only ones who have clear recorded votes for such a balanced approach," Mariani said.
Walz said he is grateful for the Senate's passage of the additional funding because he needs to pay the salaries of law enforcement. "If we could just move one piece of reform with this," that would be helpful for people who are hurting, Walz said. "And next week get another one, and then keep going."
A similar divide between the House and Senate occurred when Walz previously proposed creating a $35 million "SAFE Account" to help pay for the mutual aid costs of law enforcement agencies that pitch in during emergencies in other communities, such as security needs around the Chauvin trial.
The House failed to pass a bill in February that included the money and police accountability provisions, with House Republicans and some DFL members rejecting the measure. The Senate approved some money to support police offering mutual aid, but did not want to tie accountability measures to the funds.
A handful of House Democrats are pushing for a statewide ban on using tear gas, pepper spray and other nonlethal munitions against protesters. Meanwhile, the Senate GOP brought forward a resolution Monday honoring the Minnesota National Guard, after members were kicked out using a St. Paul union hall as a staging area last week.