ST. PAUL — Saturday night, May 30, came and went with less destruction than Minneapolis and St. Paul saw days before, officials said Sunday, May 31.
Fewer people stayed out after a cities-wide curfew to protest the death of local 46-year-old George Floyd, Gov. Tim Walz and local leaders said during a morning press conference. The looting and fire-setting that marked recent nights was less widely observed.
Despite that, the officials announced that the 8 p.m. curfew would be extended and re-enter effect Sunday night. And regaining control of the streets, they added, does not mean that Floyd or his family have been served justice, nor does it mean the racism underpinning policing in the area have been addressed.
"We've got a lot of work to do ahead. What's happened to George Floyd," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said, "is etched into the soul of Minneapolis."
Floyd, 46, who was black, died Monday evening, May 25, following a confrontation with police officers responding to a counterfeiting incident reported by a south Minneapolis convenience store. Officers located him inside a vehicle matching one described in the initial call to police.
Derek Chauvin, 44, the white officer who a bystander captured on video kneeling on a handcuffed Floyd's neck shortly before he died, was fired last week, arrested and charged with murder in the third degree and manslaughter. Walz, Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter have decried the act as a murder, and Floyd's death set of a wave of anti-police brutality protests that spread from the Twin Cities to other cities across the region and major metro areas in the U.S.
While many of the local protests unfolded peacefully, violence and destruction erupted intermittently as unrest boiled over. Dozens of businesses and storefronts, and at least one police station, were ransacked, burglarized and put to the torch, according to public safety agency reports.
Local police departments responded with force Saturday evening, augmented by an additional 2,500 Minnesota National Guard airmen and soldiers deployed to the area as part of the service branch's first-ever, full-mobilization effort in the state. Thousands more could be sent in, the Guard has warned.
With a tighter grip on and heftier presence in the cities, authorities saw to it that fewer major fires were reported Saturday night. Still, more than 50 people were arrested by 2 a.m. in Minneapolis and St. Paul combined, according to state Department of Public Safety commissioner John Harrington.
Many were brought in for gun violations, he said. Forty to 50 more were arrested in the early morning, Harrington added, though arrest records have yet to be finalized.
So far, Harrington said that about 20% of those arrested appear to have come from out of state. That does not entirely comport with the message Walz and city leaders gave on Saturday, when they pinned most of the rioting in the area on out-of-the-area groups with potential criminal ties.
Walz acknowledged as much Sunday, but said he believed based off official intelligence that bad actors did try to infiltrate some of the more peaceful protests to incite riots. Whether they were tied to white supremacists or far-left groups, as state and U.S. officials have alternately suggested, remains unclear.
Calls from lawmakers and Floyd's family members to appoint state Attorney General Keith Ellison as special prosecutor of the case against Chauvin, meanwhile, may yet come to fruition. Walz said his office is examining that possibility but that no decision has been made.
Ellison's office had earlier deferred to the governor's for comment.