Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey Defends Riot Response: "Brick And Mortar Is Not As Important As Life" | Video | RealClearPolitics

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey Defends Riot Response: "Brick And Mortar Is Not As Important As Life"

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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey gave a middle of the night press conference early Friday to defend his response to riots in the city over the death of George Floyd in police custody. Frey said buildings burned and destroyed are just "brick and mortar" and not as important as life. Frey also responded to President Trump's tweet that he is weak.

"The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers, or the public," Frey told reporters. "We could not risk serious injury to anyone, and we will continue to patrol the third precinct, entirely. We will continue to do our jobs in that area. Brick and mortar is not as important as life. Happy to answer any questions on this topic."

"The resources that we will offer to the people of the third precinct will continue. Period. The building is just bricks and mortar. It’s a building," Frey later said.








JACOB FREY, MAYOR OF MINNEAPOLIS: The third precinct. It became clear that there were imminent threats to both officers and public. And the danger became necessary. And I made the decision to evacuate the third precinct.

The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life, of our officers, or the public. We could not risk serious injury to anyone, and we will continue to patrol the third precinct, entirely. We will continue to do our jobs in that area. Brick and mortar is not as important as life. Happy to answer any questions on this topic.

REPORTER: Mayor, at what point did you hear that people… Did you receive word earlier in the day that people might be interested in protesting that, or going into the third precinct?

FREY: We have received reports regarding many, attempting to get into the third precinct, on numerous occasions. Yes.

REPORTER: What’s your response to President Trump’s tweets saying that looters should be shot? Have you seen the President’s tweets?

FREY: No, I have not.

REPORTER: I’d have to bring it up here, to quote it exactly. Does anybody else have that up here?

ANOTHER REPORTER: Now, what’s the plan here? What are we doing?

FREY: With regard to?

REPORTER: Clearing the streets. A lot of businesses have been burned down. A lot of livelihoods have been hurt. We have not seen… We’ve seen very little police out there, just in general, at the third, and throughout. And I’m just wondering, what is the plan? And who is in charge? Right now, in this city.

FREY: There is a lot of pain and anger right now, in our city. I understand that. Our entire city recognizes that. What we have seen over the past several hours, and the past couple of nights, in terms of looting, is unacceptable. Our communities cannot and will not tolerate it.

These are businesses. These are community institutions that we need. These are banks that people rely on to get cash, grocery stores that people rely on to get food. These are pharmacies that people rely on to get medicine. They are essential to our community, and we need to make sure that they are protected.

And so, we are working with our officers right now. We are working, of course, with resources provided by the state. We’ve authorized a mutual aid, and a unified strategy, so that we can work with different jurisdictions in the area. It was clear, as of last night, that we needed additional help. And we got that additional help. Some from the state, and we are expecting more, as well.

I’ll say this, we additionally need help from our community. We need to make sure that people are looking out for our city right now. It’s not just enough to do the right thing yourself. We need to be making sure that all of us are held accountable, to make sure that we’re holding up the highest ideals that we stand by.

REPORTER: Mr. Mayor, there were people out there tonight that were saying things like, “Where are the police right now? Where are the firefighters right now? Where’s the National Guard right now?” Those are all fair questions. Where were the police, firefighters, and National Guard, to protect that third precinct, and to protect that neighborhood?

FREY: As you already know, there were more than a few fires that our firefighters had to put out. There were more than a few incidents of looting that our officers had to attend to. We are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep the peace.

We have officers that are stationed around the city in several different locations. We have, in many instances, assistance from the state to prevent looting at some of these community institutions, that we know will be necessary to get through this pandemic.

This is one of the most difficult situations that our city has been through. I’m not going to stand up here and tell you that there are easy answers to it, because there are not. What I can tell you is that through this pandemic, Chief Arradando has my 100% support. Chief Friedl and the fire department has my 100% support. We’re going to be united as a city.

REPORTER: So, where is the National Guard? And how has it being deployed? Who’s got that control? Who’s making those calls?

FREY: So, many of these questions, you’re going to want to direct to our Chief, who has been working consistently with Harrington, from the state. And many of the National Guard, as I mentioned, were stationed, and are being stationed, in locations to help prevent some of the looting that we’ve seen.

REPORTER: Like what? Like what stations?

FREY: Banks, grocery stores, pharmacies.

REPORTER: Mayor, I have the President’s tweet here. He sent out two, just in the last couple of hours. One personally attacking you. A second one that says-

FREY: Can you read it?

REPORTER: “Just spoke to governor Tim Walz. And I told him that the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty, and we will assume control. But when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” This is the President of the United States tweeting just a little bit ago. What’s your reaction to that?

FREY: What was the other tweet?

REPORTER: There was an earlier one calling you a radical leftist, and a weak mayor, and to get things under control. And I have it here. “I can’t stand back and watch this happen to a great American city. A total lack of leadership,” says the President. “Either the very weak, radical left mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the city under control, or I will send in the National Guard and get the job done right.” That was the first of two tweets from the President.

FREY: Well, let me say this, weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis. We are strong as hell. Is this a difficult time period? Yes. But you better be damn sure that we’re going to get through this.

REPORTER: So, Mayor, some people have questioned whether you made a conscious decision to let people go into the third precinct and offer an office, one of these healings spots that you had referenced earlier in the day, is that how you were approaching it?

FREY: No. The decision that I made was for the safety of our officers, and the safety of the public. The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life. It’s a decision that I did not take lightly. I understand the importance of a precinct, but we are able to regroup and continue providing the same service to the third precinct, as a geography.

REPORTER: Mayor, at what point did you make that decision?

FREY: I don’t remember the exact time.

REPORTER: Was it earlier in the afternoon? Or just a couple hours before this taken?

FREY: As situations started to escalate more and more, as we saw more and more people breach the perimeter. As we noted, we have to have our officers at many locations throughout the city to prevent looting and crime. It became obvious to me that safety was at risk. And it became obvious to me that we could take a different route that would better assist both the public, as well as the safety, of our police officers.
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