Sen. Howe responds to detailed request for National Guard help from Minneapolis Police ignored by Walz administration

The Minnesota Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committees released new testimony today from Minneapolis Police Commander Scott Gerlicher outlining a detailed request he prepared asking for National Guard help when violent riots were breaking out on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. This directly contradicts Gov. Walz’s contention that the City of Minneapolis did not ask for specific help from the Guard, which resulted in a slow state response that led to several more days of rioting.

According to Commander Gerlicher’s testimony, he drafted a detailed, written initial request for National Guard resources. That request was then submitted by Chief Arradondo via email to Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington on Wednesday evening – contradicting earlier statements from Gov. Walz that he only received a nonspecific request during a phone call from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. During a committee hearing in July, Commissioner Harrington testified he advised Gen. Jensen to ready the Guard on Thursday morning based not on Chief Arradondo’s formal request, but on a feeling he had watching the events unfold. He made no mention of the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD) formal request for support.

With Commander Gerlicher’s detailed plan delivered Wednesday at 9:11 pm, the Walz administration waited almost 24 hours to formally call up the National Guard. In the intervening time, the Third Precinct was lost. The state never informed MPD that the email to Commissioner Harrington was not a valid request, nor did MPD hear anything back from Gov. Walz or Commissioner Harrington the remainder of Wednesday night.

In addition, Commander Gerlicher noted a plan was in place to hold the Third Precinct without loss of life, but Mayor Frey overruled that plan resulting in the abandonment of the Third Precinct building.

Commander Gerlicher’s testimony shows that Governor Walz’s response to Minneapolis was woefully inadequate and delayed to the point that it allowed chaos to engulf the city,” said Senator Jeff Howe (R-Rockville).  “Furthermore, Commander Gerlicher testimony reveals how Governor Walz has been misleading Minnesotans about the order of events to deliberately dodge taking responsibility for his failures in the chain of command. Unfortunately, these failures resulted in a delayed deployment of the Guard, which allowed lawlessness to besiege the city that would ultimately destroy lives and neighborhoods throughout the city. The fault of this, at least in part, lies with this administration.”

Commander Gerlicher is the highest-ranking officer of the Minneapolis Police Department to provide an on-the-record account to the two Senate committees investigating the city’s response to the riots. According to Commander Gerlicher’s written testimony, Minneapolis police officers recognized early on that they lacked the manpower to quell the violent riots. At various times, Commander Gerlicher describes the rapidly growing violence and explains the actions taken by officers to attempt to manage the riots while severely lacking resources.

Among other charges, Commander Gerlicher noted:

  • The police department’s resources were exhausted almost immediately, forcing officers to adopt a defensive posture that left them with no ability to safely respond to stop the looting and extinguish fires.
  • Many critical 911 calls were left unanswered for extended periods due to a lack of resources.
  • By the time the Walz administration realized a National Guard response was necessary (almost 24 hours too late), it required the call-up of the entire contingent of Minnesota’s guard troops, the first time that’s happened since World War II. Even after the governor took over the operation, MPD still lacked sufficient resources and was forced to continue a defensive posture with limited ability to stop looting or fires.

Commander Gerlicher’s testimony also provided an hour-by-hour daily account of the violence and harrowing events that officers faced during the riots.

Interested parties can read the letter from Minneapolis Police Chief Maderia Arradonda and Commander Gerlicher’s entire testimony and answers to follow up questions below.

Medaria Arradondo Cover Letter to Minnesota Senate Committee

Commander Gerlicher Written Testimony to Minnesota Senate Committee

Commander Gerlicher Follow Up Questions and Answers to Minnesota Senate Committee