Minneapolis looks like a military fortress ahead of the George Floyd murder trial verdict — with fears heightened by a drive-by shooting targeting some of the thousands of National Guard members trying to protect the city.
The Minnesota city had already dramatically increased security ahead of the trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin — ramping it up even further following the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb just 10 miles from where Floyd was killed.
As jury deliberations are set to start Monday in Chauvin’s murder trial, dramatic photos show huge chunks of the Twin Cities completely boarded up, fenced off and swamped by armed troops and military vehicles.
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The National Guard has activated more than 3,000 troops to back up more than 1,000 law enforcement officers already involved in the multi-agency “Operation Safety Net” protecting the troubled area.
Guard members in fatigues are stationed across the city, in front of regular buildings as well as the heavily fortified police and court buildings, the Star Tribune noted. Law enforcement agencies from Ohio and Nebraska have also been called in to bolster security.
“All this military presence — it feels strange, like I’m in a movie or something,” Reese Farrell, 17, told the paper.
The threat is clear, however — highlighted by a drive-by shooting early Sunday that injured two of the thousands of National Guardsmen there.
“This event highlights the volatility and tension in our communities right now,” said Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General. “I ask for peace as we work through this difficult time.”
The fortification of government buildings was expected to cost at least $1 million — but was deemed necessary because the Minnesota region has been repeatedly ravaged by violent protests since Floyd’s police-custody death last May, the Star Tribune said.
The governor said law enforcement agencies from Ohio and Nebraska also have been called to bolster security throughout the Twin Cities.
He acknowledged that the presence of officers and the Guard is causing trauma to some Minnesotans, particularly Black residents, and he said he supports calls for policy changes to address racial inequalities in the state.
Governor Tim Walz conceded that the military presence was causing trauma for some locals — but said it was necessary to get policy changes addressing racial inequalities, the paper said.
“We can’t pass those things if we are in chaos and crisis and our buildings are burning,” Walz said.
Many locals told the paper that they supported the military lockdown is it ended the destruction of the Twin Cities.
“I want to see justice and change, but I also don’t want my city to burn,” Dan Woodward told the paper.
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“I slept well last night,” said 28-year-old bakery owner Germain Pérez of the National Guard presence making “the community safer.”
Jill Boschwitz offered candy bars to the Guard members, while conceding that their presence made her feel “antsy and thankful.”
“It’s a little disconcerting that they think we need this,” she said. “I just don’t want anyone to get hurt.”