Apr 19, 2021 - Politics

Minneapolis braces for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial

National Guard soldiers posted on a street corner near downtown. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Minneapolis is waking up to images of an occupied city on Monday, as the city and the world await a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

What it's like: Residents running errands, picking up dinner and heading to the dog park in recent days encountered heavily-armed National Guard troops stationed throughout the city.

  • Some streets downtown are barricaded as far from the courthouse as Hennepin Ave. and even more businesses across Minneapolis and St. Paul are boarded up.

The big picture: For months, officials and residents have braced for the possibility of more unrest at the culmination of the trial. Operation Safety Net, a centralized command of state and local law enforcement, was formed to prevent a repeat of the fires and looting that followed George Floyd's killing last summer.

  • But the jury deliberations, which will begin following Monday's closing arguments, are coming at an especially fraught time.

What's happening: The police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center has raised already heightened community tensions ahead of the verdict.

  • While the protests have been largely peaceful, the situation has escalated into clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators on several nights.
  • Crowd-control tactics, including tear gas and other "less lethal" munitions, and treatment of the press sparked intense backlash from protesters, local lawmakers and even doctors.
  • The Minneapolis City Council passed a largely symbolic resolution Friday seeking to rein the operation in, as some activists and local lawmakers call on Gov. Tim Walz and the mayors to dismantle Operation Safety Net altogether.

The other side: Top state law enforcement officials and leaders say the operation — and its actions in Brooklyn Center — are necessary to keep the peace and protect property.

  • Of note: A more restrained response Saturday resulted in a night of peaceful protest without arrests or confrontation, as MPR News reports.

Businesses, meanwhile, remain on edge after last year. Last week's "crime spree" targeting Twin Cities establishments further rattled many.

  • Given those stakes, leaders in the business community are also defending OSN.
  • "Safety Net has been effective and efficient and done the work that that it was supposed to do," Minneapolis Regional Chamber CEO Jonathan Weinhagen told Axios. "As we head into the next phase of the operation ... I have every confidence that it's going to continue to do just that."

The bottom line: We don't know how long the jury deliberations will take. But expect tense days and weeks ahead.


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