In Minneapolis, city fortified after Chauvin guilty verdict

More than 3,000 National Guard soldiers, along with police officers, sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement personnel have flooded Minneapolis in the wake of a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Posted: Apr 20, 2021 4:57 PM
Updated: Apr 20, 2021 6:14 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Just outside the entrance to Smile Orthodontics, in a Minneapolis neighborhood of craft breweries and trendy shops, two soldiers in jungle camouflage and body armor were on watch, assault rifles slung over their backs. Snow flurries blew around them. A few steps away at the Iron Door Pub, three more National Guard soldiers and a Minneapolis police officer stood out front, watching the street. A handful of other soldiers were scattered nearby, along with four camouflaged Humvees and a couple police cars.

Across the street was a boarded-up building spray-painted with big yellow letters: “BLACK LIVES MATTER ALL YEAR ROUND.”

Adam Martinez was walking down the street when he briefly stopped to stare at the scene.

“This city feels like it’s occupied by the military,” said Martinez, a commercial painter who lives in nearby St. Paul. “This is so weird.”

The jury of six white people and six Black or multiracial ones came back with its verdict Tuesday after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. Chauvin was found guilty on all charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

More than 3,000 National Guard soldiers, along with police officers, state police, sheriffs deputies and other law enforcement personnel have flooded the city in recent days, with a verdict looming in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murder in the death last year of George Floyd.

But in the city that has come to epitomize America’s debate over police killings, there are places today in Minneapolis that can feel almost like a police state.

It leaves many wondering: How much is too much?

Concrete barriers, chain-link fences and barbed wire now ring parts of downtown Minneapolis so that authorities can quickly close off the courthouse where the trial is being held. It’s become normal in recent days to pass convoys of desert-tan military vehicles on nearby highways, and stumble across armed men and women standing guard.

One day they’ll park their armored vehicles in front of the high-end kitchen store with its $160 bread knives and $400 cooking pots. The next they’ll be outside the Depression-era movie theater, or the popular Mexican grocery store or the liquor store ransacked by rioters during the protests that followed Floyd’s death.

Meanwhile hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of stores and other buildings have been boarded up across the city, from Absolute Bail Bonds to glass-walled downtown office towers to Floyd’s 99 Barbershop.

Behind all the security are the days of violence that began with protests over Floyd's death. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz faced withering criticism for not stepping in quicker to deploy the National Guard. City officials estimate the city suffered roughly $350 million in damage, mostly to commercial properties.

“They’re between a rock and hard place,” said Eli Silverman, professor emeritus at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a longtime scholar of policing. “You don’t want to overmilitarize and make it appear that you’ve converted a sovereign state into a police state. But on the other hand, you have to be prepared, too,” in case protests flare again.

More important than the size of the force, he said, is the expertise and planning behind it. Law enforcement leaders, for example, need to ensure proper crowd control training, and that officers from other jurisdictions are under a single command.

“It’s not just numbers, it’s the strategic decisions that are incorporated in these things,” he said.

Minneapolis has a coordinated law-enforcement plan, called Operation Safety Net, that oversees planning and law-enforcement responses.

Speaking on Monday to reporters, top law-enforcement officials stood alongside local community leaders and vowed to protect property, allow peaceful protests, and try to de-escalate tensions before demonstrations turn violent.

Recent history, though, hasn't been so peaceful. A little over a week ago, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, was killed by police during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.

Protests outside the city’s police headquarters regularly spilled into violence, with protesters lobbing water bottles and the occasional rock at an array of law enforcement officers, and law enforcement responding by going after protesters - and sometimes journalists - with pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets.

“We know we need to do better. What happened the last few days wasn’t something we wanted,” Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said at the press conference. “But we had to act to keep the community safe. And I will never back down from anybody when it comes to keeping this county safe.”

Many here doubt the promises of law enforcement, which has long had a troubled relationship with the city’s Black community.

Burhan Israfael, a community organizer who lives in Cedar-Riverside, a Minneapolis neighborhood with one of the largest East African communities in the country, said the presence of military vehicles and armed soldiers was terrifying. He said the terror strikes particularly sharply at the city’s many immigrants who fled violence for the safety of the United States.

“I don’t know anybody that experienced and lived through something like that, that feels comfortable coming outside,” he said. “To be faced with the violent image of somebody dressed in all that camouflage, sort of parading around those massive weapons — is unsettling for sure.”

But plenty of others believe the city needs to be ready for trouble.

The Rev. Ian Bethel, a leader in the city’s Black church community, sounded almost angry Monday as he spoke alongside the law enforcement officials.

"We’re at a difficult time here, all of us having emotions, anxieties and stress that most of us have not been able yet to express in a proper way,” he said. “But let me make this clear: One way you do not express whatever you got tied up in you is through violence.”

On Monday afternoon, soon after lawyers' closing arguments and the Chauvin case going to the jury, about 300 protesters marched outside the courthouse.

There was no sign of violence.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 604509

Reported Deaths: 7638
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1249671779
Ramsey52513897
Dakota46840471
Anoka42774458
Washington27428291
Stearns22557225
St. Louis18138313
Scott17551136
Wright16379149
Olmsted13399102
Sherburne1202095
Carver1067448
Clay826192
Rice8202110
Blue Earth762644
Crow Wing681795
Kandiyohi667985
Chisago619952
Otter Tail585884
Benton582998
Goodhue483874
Douglas475581
Mower470533
Winona461351
Itasca459763
Isanti440064
McLeod430661
Morrison424762
Beltrami407861
Nobles407650
Steele397816
Polk389072
Becker386755
Lyon363853
Carlton353056
Freeborn347033
Pine334923
Nicollet331245
Mille Lacs311854
Brown307840
Le Sueur297326
Cass286232
Todd285633
Meeker263443
Waseca238023
Martin235332
Roseau211221
Wabasha20793
Hubbard196641
Dodge18783
Renville182446
Redwood176539
Houston174616
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Wadena163323
Fillmore157610
Faribault154719
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec146828
Sibley146810
Aitkin138937
Watonwan13579
Rock128719
Jackson122712
Pipestone116726
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Pope11306
Murray107110
Swift106918
Koochiching95418
Stevens92411
Clearwater89016
Marshall88817
Lake83220
Wilkin83213
Lac qui Parle75622
Big Stone6044
Grant5948
Lincoln5853
Mahnomen5669
Norman5479
Kittson49022
Unassigned48193
Red Lake4017
Traverse3775
Lake of the Woods3453
Cook1720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371101

Reported Deaths: 6053
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58263640
Linn21221339
Scott20308248
Black Hawk16157312
Woodbury15240230
Johnson1462385
Dubuque13510211
Dallas1129199
Pottawattamie11228174
Story1071648
Warren583791
Clinton561593
Cerro Gordo554095
Sioux517574
Webster515894
Muscatine4882106
Marshall486976
Des Moines467672
Wapello4338122
Buena Vista426940
Jasper421172
Plymouth403181
Lee382356
Marion366076
Jones300957
Henry294637
Bremer288461
Carroll287152
Boone268634
Crawford268240
Benton259855
Washington257351
Dickinson249344
Mahaska232651
Jackson225242
Clay216727
Kossuth216166
Tama212071
Delaware211143
Winneshiek198735
Page194522
Buchanan194033
Cedar192423
Hardin187544
Fayette186643
Wright186040
Hamilton181951
Harrison180073
Clayton171057
Butler166335
Madison164619
Mills163824
Floyd163442
Cherokee159338
Lyon158841
Poweshiek157036
Allamakee152952
Hancock150334
Iowa149824
Winnebago144531
Cass139255
Calhoun138913
Grundy137233
Emmet135841
Jefferson133535
Shelby131837
Sac130920
Union130035
Louisa129649
Appanoose129049
Mitchell126643
Chickasaw124917
Franklin123523
Guthrie123332
Humboldt119626
Palo Alto113623
Howard105022
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Clarke100924
Keokuk96732
Monroe96431
Unassigned9540
Ida91535
Adair87332
Pocahontas85822
Davis85225
Monona82931
Osceola78916
Greene78011
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Worth7618
Taylor66812
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Decatur6169
Ringgold56424
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