- The Washington Times
Sunday, April 18, 2021

Rep. Ilhan Omar lashed out at two of her fellow Minnesota Democrats, Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, accusing them of placing the protest-besieged metro area under “military occupation.”

She took aim Saturday at Operation Safety Net, the public-safety response created to handle potential unrest from the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, an initiative ramped up ahead of schedule after the April 11 death of Daunte Wright, who was shot by an officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

“Governor @GovTimWalz and @MayorFrey have placed us under military occupation,” she tweeted. “‘Operation safety net’ can’t be an operation to violate people’s 1st amendment rights and their civil liberties. Stop terrorizing people who are protesting the brutality of state sanctioned violence.”

Her tweet was posted shortly before the seventh straight night of protests. Police arrested just one person Saturday, but the previous night, authorities made 136 arrests as protesters threw objects and breached fending surrounding the Brooklyn Center police station.

The Minnesota National Guard reported that two officers suffered minor injuries after a drive-by shooter in a light-colored SUV fired several shots shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday at an Operation Safety Net team in Minneapolis.

One officer was hurt by shattered glass, and the other suffered superficial injuries.

“I am relieved to know none of our Guardsmen were seriously injured,” said Minnesota National Guard Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke in a Sunday statement. “This event highlights the volatility and tension in our communities right now. I ask for peace as we work through this difficult time.”

Former Brooklyn Center Officer Kim Potter was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter in the death of the 20-year-old Wright. The police chief described the shooting as an accident, saying that the officer mistook her handgun for her Taser.

At least 20 businesses were vandalized and looted after the incident, prompting Mr. Walz on Monday to double the National Guard presence and declare a peacetime emergency in the seven-county metro area. 

More than 50 left-of-center groups, including the ACLU and Black Lives Matter St. Paul, called Thursday on state and local officials to cease Operation Safety Net, saying they were “horrified by the state’s preemptive force against its people.”

Closing arguments in the Chauvin trial are scheduled for Monday. Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis officer, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody.

Protests and rioting last year over Floyd’s death resulted in an estimated $500 million in damages in the Twin Cities area.

Mr. Walz warned Monday that those who seek to “exploit these tragedies for destruction or personal gain, you can rest assured that the largest police presence in Minnesota history and coordination will be prepared.”

“You will be arrested, you will be charged, and there will be consequences for those actions,” Mr. Walz said at a press briefing. “It’s not debatable. You’re not making the case, you’re hurting the case, you’re undermining the grief, and you hear it from families time and time again.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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