Posted on March 3, 2021

Growing Tension in Minneapolis as Trial Looms in Floyd Death

Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, February 27, 2021

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. {snip} 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. {snip} 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. {snip}

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.


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.


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.


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. {snip}