Growing tension in Minneapolis as trial looms in Floyd death

George Floyd (left) and Derek Chauvin. Chauvin, a former police officer, has been charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd.

Barbed wire and concrete barriers surround the courthouse where the white former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd is due to soon go on trial.

Posted: Feb 28, 2021 9:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Barbed wire and concrete barriers surround the courthouse where the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd will soon go on trial, a sign of the deep uneasiness hanging over a city literally set ablaze almost a year ago in the anger over his death.

Mayor Jacob Frey and Gov. Tim Walz, both Democrats, were sharply criticized for failing to move faster to stop last summer's looting and destruction, which included the torching of a police station. Anything less than a murder conviction for Derek Chauvin is likely to test them — and the city — once again.

Jury selection begins March 8 with opening statements March 29. Floyd, who was Black, died May 25 after Chauvin, who was white, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges; three other fired officers go on trial in August.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Minneapolis after Floyd's death. Many demonstrated peacefully. But for several nights, the unrest spiraled into violence, with stores looted and set ablaze along the Lake Street commercial artery that included the 3rd Precinct police station, which was home to the officers who arrested Floyd. The station itself was eventually abandoned by police and burned by rioters. Some nervous neighborhoods formed watch groups, setting up checkpoints and sometimes armed patrols. The violence finally subsided after National Guard troops arrived in sufficient numbers.

As the city moves to make the courthouse virtually impenetrable, some people worry about what might happen elsewhere if Chauvin is acquitted.

Elias Usso's pharmacy on Lake Street had been open less than a year when it was destroyed by fire and water. He blames Chauvin personally for what he considers “the murder of an innocent man” as well as the destruction that followed — estimated at more than $350 million in Minneapolis alone.

“One police officer did that,” Usso said. “Something has to change.”

His Seward Pharmacy has reopened with help from donors. In between vaccinating customers against COVID-19, Usso — an Ethiopian immigrant and a Black man — talked of still feeling the emotional turmoil over Floyd's death and the unrest, and his concerns about the trial.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to my business. We’re waiting to see," Usso said. "But I will continue to give service to our neighbors and delivering prescriptions to grandma and grandpa. If something happens, we’re going to continue."

Frey said more than 3,000 law enforcement officers from across the state and Minnesota National Guard soldiers will be at the ready when the case goes to the jury, expected in late April or early May.

Frey last week declared that Minneapolis remains “open for business,” and said people should go about their lives as usual.

But the security going up around the Hennepin County courthouse, City Hall and the jail — all in the heart of downtown — is extraordinary. It includes three rings of concrete barriers, two topped by chain-link fencing with a trough in between filled with coils of razor wire. The innermost fence is topped with barbed wire, and ground-floor windows at all three buildings are boarded up.

Protest leaders are on edge, too. They accuse authorities of creating a police state downtown that could trample their freedoms of speech and assembly.

“It's not going to dissuade us from protesting. We're determined to let our voices be heard," said Linden Gawboy, an activist with the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar, which formed after the police killing of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis in 2015.

It's not just the courthouse that's barricaded. The state Capitol in St. Paul has been ringed with temporary fencing ever since last summer's unrest. Inside, lawmakers have squabbled for weeks over providing extra state money for security during the trials, though Walz and other officials say they'll manage one way or another.

“There’s going to be very high emotion on all sides of this, and we’ll be prepared,” Walz said.

Julie Ingebretsen, owner of a Scandinavian food and gift market on Lake Street that was founded by her Norwegian grandfather, said she's not boarding up, though she expects some will in the miles-long commercial corridor that includes many immigrant- and minority-run businesses. Some have never taken down the plywood that they put up last summer.

While Ingebretsen's Nordic Marketplace was looted and vandalized, she said she was fortunate that her store wasn't burned. She said she feels “cautiously optimistic” now because of personal outreach efforts by Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and other city officials, and their assurances that plenty of police and Guard members will be standing by.

“We're celebrating our 100th anniversary this year, so we have every intention of celebrating another 100, and not going anywhere," Ingebretsen said. “We are totally committed to keeping moving forward.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 557665

Reported Deaths: 7104
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1161051683
Ramsey48076856
Dakota42704422
Anoka38757416
Washington25072274
Stearns21100219
St. Louis16883298
Scott16071117
Wright14862127
Olmsted1278097
Sherburne1068280
Carver986845
Clay784790
Rice7657102
Blue Earth699540
Kandiyohi629581
Crow Wing619886
Chisago551650
Otter Tail545273
Benton533897
Mower451332
Goodhue445572
Douglas444071
Winona439149
Nobles400848
Morrison396359
McLeod396055
Isanti380159
Itasca375553
Beltrami373557
Polk366567
Steele364114
Becker356548
Lyon349048
Carlton330752
Freeborn328529
Pine312721
Nicollet308342
Brown294839
Mille Lacs283850
Le Sueur271322
Todd269230
Cass250826
Meeker238137
Waseca231421
Martin213529
Wabasha19983
Roseau198019
Hubbard172541
Renville172543
Dodge17203
Redwood166535
Houston162514
Cottonwood157521
Fillmore15179
Pennington151219
Chippewa146737
Wadena145021
Faribault144219
Sibley136710
Kanabec132022
Aitkin128936
Watonwan12579
Rock123119
Jackson117610
Yellow Medicine110919
Pipestone110026
Pope10316
Murray10299
Swift100118
Marshall85617
Stevens82310
Lake78419
Clearwater77914
Koochiching77513
Wilkin77112
Lac qui Parle73622
Big Stone5654
Lincoln5602
Grant5518
Norman5229
Mahnomen5088
Unassigned48578
Kittson46822
Red Lake3877
Traverse3605
Lake of the Woods3073
Cook1460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 358375

Reported Deaths: 5826
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56091605
Linn20328330
Scott19153235
Black Hawk15566306
Woodbury14917221
Johnson1408481
Dubuque13169203
Dallas1090996
Pottawattamie10769162
Story1032447
Warren556986
Clinton538390
Cerro Gordo523486
Webster508391
Sioux506973
Marshall477274
Muscatine461596
Des Moines441965
Wapello4254120
Buena Vista421940
Jasper407870
Plymouth398179
Lee368555
Marion354875
Jones293355
Henry286437
Bremer279460
Carroll279352
Crawford262440
Boone258933
Benton250355
Washington249250
Dickinson242543
Mahaska225250
Jackson218242
Kossuth213163
Clay211325
Tama206771
Delaware203339
Winneshiek194733
Page190421
Buchanan188931
Cedar184623
Fayette183041
Wright180535
Hardin180142
Hamilton178249
Harrison176673
Clayton167155
Butler162534
Mills158820
Cherokee157138
Floyd155442
Lyon154941
Madison154319
Poweshiek152833
Allamakee149151
Iowa145724
Hancock143734
Winnebago136231
Grundy135432
Cass134854
Calhoun133211
Jefferson130935
Emmet128840
Shelby128637
Sac127319
Louisa127249
Appanoose126647
Mitchell125241
Union123232
Chickasaw122615
Humboldt118326
Guthrie118029
Franklin112921
Palo Alto111022
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10020
Clarke98324
Keokuk94830
Monroe94128
Ida89633
Adair84532
Pocahontas83721
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75716
Lucas74923
Worth7118
Taylor65412
Fremont6149
Decatur5909
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
Wayne52123
Audubon4939
Adams3314
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Partly Cloudy
36° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 31°
Forest City
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 29°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 34°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 34°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 25°
Sunshine returns by Thursday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/20/21)

Image

Bulls defeat Grizzlies in Fraser Cup Final

Image

Bruins continue fight for playoff bid

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/19/21)

Image

Sean's Weather 4/19

Image

Mayo Clinic Doctor creates art for patients

Image

Electric car show

Image

Walk a Block

Image

Cleaning up Chester Woods

Image

Little Thistle collecting donations

Community Events