Minneapolis’ downtown area is being fortified as the city braces for the commencement of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.
Photographs taken by DailyMail.com on Friday show concrete pillars and barbed wire fences have already been erected around the Hennepin County Courthouse where the trial is set to begin Monday with jury selection.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd, which occurred in the city last Memorial Day.
Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd, 46, lost consciousness during that time and he later died.
Floyd’s death sparked passionate protests in the streets of Minneapolis, but they quickly turned destructive. 1,500 businesses were damaged, destroyed or looted across the city with the damage bill totaling close to $1 billion.
Two days after Floyd’s death, Chauvin was indicted on third-degree murder, before the charge was later dropped at the behest of a trial judge.
But on Friday, The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the judge was wrong to drop that charge – sparking speculation that it may soon be reinstated.
Legal scholars told the Star Journal that they believe ‘adding third-degree murder to the case could be a strategic move to give jurors more opportunities to convict Chauvin’ because it may be viewed as a ‘middle-ground’ between the two other charges.
In Minnesota, second-degree murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison, while third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years.
Minneapolis’ downtown area is being turned into a fortress as the city braces for the commencement of Derek Chauvin’s trial
Photographs taken by DailyMail.com on Friday show barbed wire and metal barricades have already been erected around the Hennepin County Courthouse where the trial is set to start Monday with jury selection
Local businesses in the area are also boarding up in anticipation of the trial
‘We don’t want it to happen again’: Tawfiq Wazwaz, manager of grocery and tobacco store AM Gift Shop, told the Wall Street Journa l he was ‘nervous’ after having spent tens of thousands of dollars repairing damage and hiring security to protect his business last summer
One City Council member Phillipe Cunningham claimed that the barricades and fences are making ‘folks feel unsafe in a different kind of way’
Former white Minneapolis police officer Chauvin (left) is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over the killing of George Floyd (right) after he knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes
George Floyd died on Memorial Day as he was arrested by four police officers over allegedly trying to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. He was seen in a video pleading that he couldn’t breathe as Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck
Jury selection for the trial is set to begin on Monday, and a coalition of 17 activist groups have vowed to stage a large peaceful protest outside the courthouse.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng – the three other police officers who were present at the time of Floyd’s death – face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter and will stand trial separately in August.
Meanwhile, businesses in the area are also boarding up in anticipation of the trial.
Tawfiq Wazwaz, manager of grocery and tobacco store AM Gift Shop, told the Wall Street Journal he was ‘nervous’ after having spent tens of thousands of dollars repairing damage and hiring security to protect his business last summer.
‘We don’t want what happened in the past to happen again,’ he said.
Jay Chau, the owner of a family-owned hair salon near the Minneapolis fifth police precinct, told Fox News it took months to rebuild his business after it was looted and flooded in the summer.
‘A lot of the suffering were minority business owners too, you know, and a lot of us start from scratch and it just takes time to heal. Hopefully we can all work together,’ Chau said.
Despite buildings being fenced off and boarded up, Mayor Jacob Frey insisted that the city is still functioning as normal
City, state and federal leaders held their last security briefings Thursday just days before what will be one of the most high-profile and most closely watched trials the US has ever seen kicks off
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng – the three other police officers who were present at the time of Floyd’s death – face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter and will stand trial separately in August
The beefed up security is costing Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials at least $1 million including $420,000 on the courthouse alone, reported the Star Tribune
Workers erect fencing at the government HQ Wednesday. Businesses and government buildings have boarded up as the city braces for the start of Derek Chauvin’s trial
A government building in downtown Minneapolis has been boarded up in anticipation of violence ahead of the commencement of Chauvin’s trial
Boarded windows at the Hennepin County Government Headquarters in Minneapolis. Minneapolis has launched a massive security effort including putting 2,000 National Guard members and 1,100 cops on the streets
Behind two layers of fencing with barbed wire in between, a board that was put over windows at this government building
Some business owners, however, are refusing to board up their businesses and say they are relying on police and other government officials to offer protections.
‘We’re going to operate six days a week as normal,’ one local restaurant manager in the downtown area told KARE 11.
Others even believe that the trial could boost business, given that there will be a flurry of activity around the downtown area.
‘We’re planning on being open because people got to work, and there’s a lot of security guards that need to eat, news people need to eat and people who are just downtown for whatever reason,’ a cafe owner told CBS Local.
Meanwhile, city, state and federal leaders held their last security briefings Thursday just days before what will be one of the most high-profile and most closely watched trials the US has ever seen kicks off.
Dubbed ‘Operation Safety Net’ (ONS), the multi-agency security plan includes closures of certain public buildings and streets, extra security from law enforcement and National Guard troops and the launch of a city website to keep residents up to date.
The beefed up security is costing Minneapolis and Hennepin County officials at least $1 million including $420,000 on the courthouse alone, reported the Star Tribune.
The intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where Floyd died, will also be closed off for the duration of the trial.
Officials said preparations had been months in the making with a total of 2,000 guard members and 1,100 police officers, many from other jurisdictions, ready to be deployed – after the city was caught off guard last summer and was forced to call in emergency help from the National Guard.
Any use of tear gas or other nonlethal methods of crowd dispersal will be required to be approved directly by the police chief under a court order, after shocking footage emerged last summer of some cops and federal agents using violent tactics against demonstrators.
A gate allowing visitors to access the US District Court Barriers near Minneapolis City Hall at the Government Center
Law enforcement officers open a gate on a fenced perimeter outside the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday
A man walks past layers of barbed wire fence and razor wire in front of the Hennepin County Government Headquarters. Barbed wire and metal barricades have already been erected around the Hennepin County Courthouse where Chauvin’s murder trial is set to start Monday with the jury selection
Activists have plastered the wire fencing with Black Lives Matter signs ahead of Chauvin’s trial
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey explained the heightened security by saying ‘safety is a top priority through this very difficult time in our city’.
‘We’re hearing several common themes. One of them is concern over this question of additional law enforcement and mutual aid,’ he said Wednesday.
‘How those additional law enforcement and mutual aid will be interfacing with peaceful protestors.’
Despite buildings being fenced off and boarded up, he insisted that the city is still functioning as normal.
‘In Minneapolis, we are open for business. People should go about their normal day-to-day activities as usual,’ he told the Biz Journal.
However several city leaders and activist groups have been critical of the level of security measures going up around the city which is sparking concerns officials are gearing up for a ‘not guilty’ verdict.
City Council President Lisa Bender warned that a heavy police and National Guard presence could create a more hostile environment between law enforcement and demonstrators at a time of increased tensions between law enforcement and the community.
‘I don’t think that we can police our way out of police violence,’ Bender said in a public hearing Monday.
City Council member Phillipe Cunningham added that the ‘heavy-handed’ presence is making ‘folks feel unsafe in a different kind of way’.
People wait to conduct business at the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday. A law enforcement officer is pictured speaking with one man from the inside a fenced perimeter
Dubbed ‘Operation Safety Net’ (ONS), the multi-agency security plan includes closures of certain public buildings and streets, extra security and the launch of a city website to keep residents up to date
Metal scaffolding poles sit ready to be used for construction on the Minneapolis City Hall
Following Floyd’s death on May 25, protests spiraled out of control. Over the course of the next week, two people were killed in ensuing violence, 604 people were arrested, and 1,500 properties were either looted, destroyed or damaged.
The damage bill for that week alone was upward of $500 million – and marked the second-most destructive period of local unrest in United States history, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
The total damage bill is now reported to be closer to $1 billion.
Jury selection for Chauvin’s trial could take up to three weeks starting Monday with opening arguments not expected to be heard until the end of March.
Prosecutors say Chauvin murdered Floyd with the county medical examiner ruling his death a homicide from ‘cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.’
The defense says Floyd died from the drugs found in his system and his pre-existing heart disease.
Chauvin was arrested back in May after footage surfaced online of Floyd’s Memorial Day killing in the streets of Minneapolis.
A construction site burns in a large fire near the Third Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 following Floyd’s death
The damage bill from the riots reportedly neared $1 billion. Officials are eager to prevent similar destruction from playing out amid Chauvin’s trial
Protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis in the weeks following Floyd’s death. Hundreds were arrested following clashes with cops. Pictured: Police react with pepper spray as protesters outside the Minneapolis police 3rd Precinct on May 27
Pictured (left to right): Former officers Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao in their mugshots. The three other cops have been charged with aiding and abetting and will stand trial August
Chauvin is accused of murdering Floyd, 46, during his arrest on May 25 for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.
The white cop was caught on camera kneeling on the black man’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd begged for his life and said ‘I can’t breathe’ and onlookers pleaded with the officers to stop.
Chauvin, Thao, Lane and Kueng were all fired the next day and the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension launched an investigation.
Chauvin, who it transpired had been subject to at least 12 conduct reports with Minneapolis Police Department since 2001, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter at the end of May.
Floyd’s family called for the charges to be upgraded to murder in the first degree.
In June Chauvin was handed another charge of second-degree murder.
A judge then dismissed the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin in October saying prosecutors did not have probable cause for the charge because they did not prove that Chauvin’s actions were a danger to anyone other than Floyd.
Under Minnesota law, a person is guilty of third-degree murder if ‘without intent to effect the death of any person, [the defendant] causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life’.
The charge is rarely used in Minnesota and carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.
Thao, Lane and Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. They each face up to 40 years in prison.
Chauvin is accused of murdering Floyd (above), 46, during his arrest on May 25 for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store