Rep. Ilhan Omar, whose Minneapolis district is ground zero for the weekend’s riots, said Sunday that protesters felt “terrorized” by National Guard troops called in to stop the violence, looting and arson.
“The community did feel [relieved] to know that there will not be a burning of their businesses and their homes. We are obviously worried and feeling terrorized about that prospect, but there really was also many people who chose to demonstrate and not abide by the curfew, who felt like they also were terrorized by the presence of tanks, by the presence of the National Guard and the militarized police,” she said on ABC’s “This Week.”
The riots erupted from demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died last week after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes, including nearly three minutes after he stopped breathing.
The violence, which has continued for five nights in Minneapolis, spread to other cities Friday and Saturday. Governors in at least eight states called in the National Guard.
Ms. Omar, Minnesota Democrat, said the country’s leaders need to find a balance between “extreme aggression” and not allowing “our city burned down.”
“Our country is in pain. People can’t get that image of George Floyd having the life choked out of him by a police officer who was supposed to protect and serve our community,” she said. “But this also is a reminder that we are living in a country that has truly for a long time brutalized African-Americans, from slavery to lynching, to Jim Crow, to mass incarceration and now to police brutality.”
She said her city suffers from some of the “worst racial disparities.”
“People are also understanding that there has been severe social and economic neglect in our communities. And so, we have real work to do, to heal, to begin to rebuild and to figure out a system that works for all of us,” she said.