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Minneapolis fortifies city hall with barbed wire and fencing ahead of George Floyd murder trial

Graig Graziosi
·3-min read
Workers install barbed wire on fencing outside the Hennepin County Government Center, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2021 in Minneapolis, as part of security preparation for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The trial is slated begin with jury selection on March 8. Chauvin is charged with murder the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (AP)
Workers install barbed wire on fencing outside the Hennepin County Government Center, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2021 in Minneapolis, as part of security preparation for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The trial is slated begin with jury selection on March 8. Chauvin is charged with murder the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) (AP)

Minneapolis municipal buildings are being fortified ahead of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd.

The Hennepin County Courthouse, Minneapolis City Hall and Hennepin County Jail are all being secured with barbed wire, concrete barriers, razor wire, and non-scalable walls in anticipation of civil unrest should Mr Chauvin be exonerated.

Mr Chauvin's trial begins on 8 March. He is facing charges of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder under felony murder. He also had been charged with Minnesota's third-degree murder charge, but a judge dismissed that charge in October.

George Floyd's death at the hands of the police kicked off a summer of civil unrest throughout the country, which eventually led to clashes between Donald Trump's federal agents and racial justice protesters.

Minneapolis' city council tried to get ahead of the potential unrest in the city by utilizing social media influencers to spread its message.

"The goal is to increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or City communications channels and/or who do not consume information in English," the council said in a statement. However, backlash to that plan resulted in the council scrapping the idea.

While the city provides messaging campaigns and fortifies its buildings, workers are also preparing the courtroom where the trial will take place.

The courtroom where Mr Chauvin will be tried is on the 18th floor of the courthouse. Plexiglass dividers have been installed to reduce transmission between those participating in the trial. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed and the seating in the room has been appropriately spread out.

Paul Blume, a reporter at Fox9 News, shared details of the safety protocols expected to be used during the trial.

"Parties will remain in their seats at counsel tables, unless they approach the podium set up to address witnesses. Bench conferences will take place using remote headsets and will not involve the attorneys physically approaching the bench," a court spokesman said, according to Mr Blume.

Jury selection for the trial begins on 8 March, with opening statements set to being on 29 March.

While downtown Minneapolis is ready for widespread and potentially violent protests, business owners in the surrounding area are afraid that anger from the verdict could spill into their neighborhoods and threaten their shops.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to my business. We’re waiting to see,” Elias Usso, the owner of the Seward Pharmacy, told the Associated Press. “But I will continue to give service to our neighbors and delivering prescriptions to grandma and grandpa. If something happens, we’re going to continue.”

Local protest leaders also felt the rising tension in the city. They accused the city of already escalating any potential conflict by turning the downtown area into a fortress. Mayor Jacob Frey has already announced that 3,000 law enforcement officers from across the state and the National Guard would be brought into the city once a verdict is expected. Leaders, like Linden Gawboy, said it would not stop them from marching.

“It’s not going to dissuade us from protesting. We’re determined to let our voices be heard,” Mr Gawboy, an activist with the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar. That group formed after police killed Jamar Clark in Minneapolis in 2015.

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