On Monday, April 19, Walz “declared a peacetime emergency for the seven-county metro area and announced that the state would tap police resources from other states ahead of a decision in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer,” Dana Ferguson reports.
That’s appropriate. Some elements of the Black Lives Matter movement are violent extremists with a demonstrated ability to overwhelm even large police forces. Having back up on call is just the responsible thing to do.
I just hope no state, called on for assistance, will treat Minnesota the way Minnesota treated North Dakota during another instance of violent political activism.
States make these requests for assistance under what’s called the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). When the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline were infiltrated by extremists who terrorized communities across southcentral North Dakota for months on end, state officials put out a call for law enforcement assistance from other states, among them Minnesota.
Only Minnesota was reticent to send assistance. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who was governor of the state at the time, was the obstacle. It was so bad, in 2017, as the protests wound down, the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association sent Dayton a letter expressing dismay, and suggesting the EMAC process ought to be redesigned to prevent political meddling.
“Unfortunate, your decision has set a very regrettable precedent here in Minnesota, and perhaps even beyond our State’s borders,” James Franklin, the group’s executive director, wrote. “Based upon this precedent, it may be necessary for Sheriffs across this country to develop a new EMAC request for assistance system devoid of political influence and which focuses strictly on public safety issues.”
“All Minnesota residents want the confidence that requests for help from our neighbors will not be ignored,” he continued.
Minnesota wasn’t the only state playing politics with North Dakota’s requests for assistance to deal with the DAPL protests. “Early on we had a number of states support our request for peace officer support,” Major General Al Dohrmann of the North Dakota National Guard told me in December 2016. “Unfortunately, all jurisdictions that supported us were subject to protest in their own cities and capitols for providing support to North Dakota, along with intense pressure from various groups to not support North Dakota’s efforts to maintain the peace and rule of law.”
To my knowledge, Minnesota has had no issues getting assistance from other states during the violent rioting around the death of George Floyd and other high-profile incidents, and that’s as it should be.
Yet when North Dakota, a state with right-of-center politics and Republican leadership, needed help politics, was a major obstacle, particularly in politically “blue” Minnesota.
Another example of our polarized politics are hurting everyone.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at [email protected]