FARGO — Gov. Tim Walz late Wednesday ordered Minnesota National Guard troops to Moorhead and surrounding communities out of concern that potential unrest over George Floyd's death could spill in from North Dakota, where there has been violence amid protesting that prompted a Guard call-out in that state.
Law enforcement officers in that part of the state "are aware of credible threats of violent activities during demonstrations planned in North Dakota that could impact nearby Minnesota communities," Walz's order said.
These potential threats prompted the request for the National Guard to provide security and assistance in maintaining order, the governor's office said in its announcement.
Walz's office did not elaborate on the nature of the potential threats or how they were detected.
There is an eventplanned for Friday afternoon in Fargo's Island Park, which organizers have pledged will be nonviolent. Organizer Ritchell Aboah, 27, who is running for Fargo City Commission, said she is anticipating 2,000 to attend the event Friday in Island Park. She said the event will not be a repeat of Saturday. "People have their worries, as they should," she said. "It's different this time. We're working with law enforcement."
Following a 4-hour-long meeting with city leaders Wednesday, plans for Friday's events changed from a protest and march from Island Park to City Hall to instead be a gathering only at the park where Aboah said they will share plans to bring effective change in the Fargo-Moorhead community.
She said while other cities are still protesting, the one protest in Fargo brought organizers and city officials together at the same table. That, and the additional charges against the other three officers in Floyd's killing, are reasons to celebrate.
"The hard part starts now," she said. "This protest brought a lot out. The curtain has been pulled back in Fargo-Moorhead."
She said the celebration will last several hours and won't go into midnight like the last demonstration.
The Guard is coordinating with government agencies in the area to provide the "personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond as necessary," the announcement said. There is no immediate word on how many Guard members are being deployed.
"The Minnesota National Guard stands ready to provide protection for all Minnesotans," Walz said in a statement. "While Minnesotans turn their attention to rebuilding our communities and re-examining racial inequities in the wake of George Floyd's death, our administration is committed to providing protection for our neighborhoods, businesses, and families in order for those meaningful conversations to happen."
Floyd died during a police encounter in south Minneapolis last week in an encounter a bystander captured on video and posted on Facebook.
Thousands of Guard troops were called into Minneapolis and St. Paul to help police and the State Patrol quell the violence that broke out last week during protests in various neighborhoods that led to looting, theft, burglary, arson and the destruction of many businesses.
A peaceful march through Fargo downtown turned ugly Saturday night, when protesters damaged buildings and vehicles in a showdown with police.
Dozens of protesters went face-to-face with police in riot gear for a couple of hours while others lobbed water bottles at the officers. Police unleashed tear gas shortly after 8 p.m., which led several protesters to throw rocks at officers. Others smashed windows at the Hodo, a popular boutique hotel and bar, damaging vehicles and moving dumpsters into roadways.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Saturday night authorized the state National Guard to help local law enforcement. Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney declared a state of emergency, and a curfew for downtown was imposed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.