Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey became a fixture of Americans’ TV screens after a man’s video-recorded death in the custody of city police. Frey has clashed verbally with President Donald Trump in the wake of protests and riots following the incident.
George Floyd, 46, died Monday evening after a police officer pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck as he lay on the pavement and refused to stop after Floyd begged him to, saying he was unable to breathe.
While many peacefully protested how Floyd died, others rioted across the city, looting stores and setting fires to buildings and cars Wednesday night. That same night, a shop owner reportedly shot a person he thought was a looter. Late Thursday night, rioters broke into and set fire to the 3rd Precinct police station, which police had abandoned.
Derek Chauvin, the officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck, was arrested and charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Many commentators have said race is an issue in the incident because Chauvin is white and Floyd was black.
>>> Commentary: The Unacceptably Unjust Death of George Floyd
The Minneapolis Police Department fired Chauvin and three other officers Tuesday.
Here are six things to know about Frey, 38, who was elected mayor as a candidate of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.
1. He’s Fighting With Trump
In the wee hours Friday, Trump called out Frey on Twitter, writing:
I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. 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 & get the job done right. …
Frey responded during a press conference Friday, The Hill reported, telling reporters: “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.”
Frey added: “We are strong as hell. Is this a difficult time period? Yes, but you better be damned sure that we’re going to get through this.”
2. He Is Pleading for Peace
Amid the rioting and looting, Frey called for peace Thursday.
“I believe in Minneapolis,” he said. “I love Minneapolis.”
“And in believing in our city, we must believe we can be better than we have been,” the mayor said. “We must confront our shortcomings with both humility and hope. We must restore the peace so we can do this hard work together.”
3. He Used to Be on City Council
Frey, elected to a four-year term as mayor on Nov. 7, 2017, ran under the banner of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He took office Jan. 2, 2018.
Ken Martin, party chairman, said in a formal statement that month that Frey “is a passionate progressive who has a proven ability to build consensus and get things done for the people of Minneapolis.”
Martin said that “from fighting for social justice to supporting small businesses, Frey will use his position as mayor to build on the progress he made on City Council.”
Frey was elected to a four-year term on the Minneapolis City Council in 2013.
4. He Was a ‘Ready or Hot’ Model for Planned Parenthood
Frey agreed to appear as a model for a Planned Parenthood fashion event called “Ready or Hot.”
Ready or Hot is “a radically inclusive fashion show that celebrates the beauty of every person, regardless of size, shape, age, gender, or race,” according to Planned Parenthood’s website.
The nation’s largest abortion provider said models for the fashion show “are community change-makers and everyday champions who support Planned Parenthood and are fiercely committed to the fight for reproductive rights.”
Frey, who is Jewish, has spoken publicly about his support of Planned Parenthood, tweeting in March 2018: “Planned Parenthood provides impt healthcare services in MPLS & MN to countless women and men—including myself. And yes, all their patients should have access to that care free from intimidation, just like I do. Proud to #StandWithPP & those they serve.”
5. He Declared ‘Abortion Provider Appreciation Day’
The Hill reported that the March 10 marking of Abortion Provider Appreciation Day “comes exactly 27 years after the death of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider who was fatally shot by a man outside his clinic in Florida in 1993.”
Frey told CBS Minnesota on March 10: “Every day, abortion providers like Whole Woman’s Health deliver high quality care in the face of harassment and threats to abortion access at the federal and local levels.”
“I’m proud to recognize today as Abortion Provider Appreciation Day to celebrate Whole Woman’s Health as an essential part of our community,” Frey said.
Frey married in 2010 and divorced in early 2014. He remarried in 2016.
6. He Supports Voting by Mail
Frey seconded an April 13 tweet by former first lady Michelle Obama calling for expanded mail-in voting.
“No American should have to choose between making their voice heard and staying safe,” Obama said in the tweet. “Expanding access to #VoteByMail, online voter registration and early voting are critical steps for this moment—they’re also long overdue.”
Eleven days later, on April 24, Frey tweeted: “Expand vote by mail.”
Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.