Minneapolis a Fortified Encampment as Chauvin Murder Trial Begins Today
All eyes are on Minnesota today as motions and possible jury selection begin today in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the May 25th 2020 murder of George Floyd. As of this writing, court is in recess having not begun jury selection. Judge Peter Cahill has ruled that the trial can proceed while awaiting an appeals court decision about reinstating an additional charge of 3rd degree murder, but is waiting to see if that court will have a decision today. That ruling is made from a courthouse that, for the next few months, resembles a fortified military encampment.
The city of Minneapolis has spent more than $600,000 in security measures in advance of the trial, including concrete barricades and metal fencing topped with barbed wire surrounding the Hennepin County Government Center. Designated protest zones have been created using the same barriers and fencing, apparently with the intention to limit people’s ability to move freely if protests occur outside the courthouse. This precaution stands in stark contrast to yesterday’s Silent March for Justice, which saw an estimated 1,500 people in attendance.
In addition, the city has brought in a reported 1,100 outside law enforcement officers and 2,000 National Guard troops to augment the Minneapolis Police Department. The MPD has been short staffed since the uprising that immediately followed Floyd’s death, which was viewed by countless people across the world via viral video.
Inside the Government Center, the complex is almost entirely empty except for security personnel, including Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies, police officers, and a handful of National Guardsmen. The Government Center has been closed to all other court cases and Hennepin County workers based there have been instructed to work from home.
Downtown Minneapolis is not the only location that has implemented extraordinary security measures. Some police precincts, including the Western District in Saint Paul, and other government buildings have also erected barricades.