Minnesota Governor Tim Walz delivered remarks in the lead-up to the Derek Chauvin verdict that show how tragically out of touch Walz is.

And that is the charitable interpretation.

Walz, who declared a “peace time state of emergency” in preparation for possible and likely riots in response to the soon expected verdict in the Chauvin trial, said this:

“As the world awaits a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, we need support in our efforts to preserve the First Amendment right of peaceful protests while protecting public safety,” said Governor Walz. 

Pathetic. Walz has not asked for state troopers from other states to help him after the Chauvin verdict is announced because of likely First Amendment demonstrations. The Minnesota state Senate has not approved $9 million in additional funding because people might exercise their First Amendment rights. I didn’t just go to the grocery to stock up (just in case) because of the possibility of First Amendment demonstrations in the wake of the Chauvin verdict.

Get real, Governor Walz: We’re afraid of riots. You know that, but either you are blinded by ideology or afraid to say so.

First Amendment demonstrations are orderly and safe, as Walz well knows. Upholding the First Amendment is antithetical to riots, which are designed to silence and intimidate.

Yet Walz refused to distinguish between riots and the exercise of First Amendment rights in any part of the emergency declaration I heard. This kind of cowardice (or ideological stance) elides First Amendment exercises and riots, as is generally the speaker’s intention, and carries the implicit message: riots are okay. Instead of denouncing riots, Governor Walz denounced “systemic racism,” which he regards as endemic to our society and which is a pretty safe bet for a politician who demurs at saying rioting is wrong.

The closest he got to defending law-abiding citizens was this:

“We can’t live like this,” he said. “We simply can’t. But we can’t have thousands of businesses burned and people put at risk.”

Who burns the buildings and puts people at risk, Governor? First Amendment supporters?

Governor Walz’s refusal to say the R-word is the direct opposite of another governor’s actions. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has just signed an “anti-riot” bill. It’s a tough bill, but those who voted for it know that a riot is not an exercise of First Amendment rights.

George Floyd’s death rightly shook the nation, and it also exposed the cravenness of a lot of politicians who pretended not to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate protest and the rampage of a riot.  

It’s so much easier for them not to see.