MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — In anticipation of a verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derick Chauvin, set to come as early as next week, the city of Minneapolis is preparing for protests and civil unrest. Preparation comes as demonstrators continue to protest the city’s streets to demand justice for Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was shot by a white police officer during a traffic stop.
Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered outside the heavily guarded Brooklyn Center police station every night since former Officer Kim Potter, who is white, shot the 20-year-old Black motorist during a traffic stop on Sunday. Protesters have shouted profanities, launched fireworks, shaken a security fence surrounding the building and lobbed water bottles at officers. Police have driven away protesters with tear gas grenades, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and long lines of riot police.
Despite pleas from elected leaders for police restraint, law enforcement on Friday night took aggressive action against protesters for another night. Several hundred demonstrators marched near the police department but the crowds dissipated shortly after 10 p.m. when officers quickly advanced. Flash bangs and sponge grenades were fired into the crowd, and officers pepper sprayed several protesters who neared a group of officers. Protesters scrambled through yards and over backyard fences to evade a perimeter they had set up for a block around the police department.
Several water bottles had been hurled over the fence towards law enforcement officers.
People who live in the area say many of their neighbors are staying in hotels or with relatives to avoid the noise as well as the tear gas that seeps into their homes.
“We can’t just have our window open any more without thinking about if there’s going to be some gas coming in,” said 16-year-old Xzavion Martin, adding that rubber bullets and other projectiles have landed on his apartment’s second-story balcony. “There’s kids in this building that are really scared to come back.”
At least 3,000 members of the National Guard were deployed around the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area. Security has been ramped up, with additional barriers placed near the courthouse and streets surrounding police precincts being closed. A 10-foot tall chain link fence embedded in concrete went up Friday around the main post office in downtown Minneapolis.
Minneapolis City Council voted Friday evening not to use tear gas on protesters.
“We’re all on edge, we’re tired; we’re all small business owners and we’re just — we’re all trying to make a living,” said Lisa Impagliazzo, a Minneapolis business owner.
Estimates show damage to local business after Floyd’s death topped half a billion dollars. The city learned how quickly protests can escalate and they’re getting ready.
“We can either cover the windows over or replace them all,” said Minneapolis resident Mark Kuzma.
Right now, estimates are about 140 businesses have sustained damage or losses since the unrest in Minneapolis begin Sunday night; that’s over a three-county area. No dollar value has been reported yet, but it doesn’t appear the total is high enough to ask for federal help.
Locals thought they’d seen it all — a pandemic, months of looting and rioting that followed the death of George Floyd — then, just as they started to breathe a bit more easily, Daunte Wright was shot and killed by police just 10 miles from the courtroom where Chauvin’s on trial for Floyd’s death, and it started all over again.
“Everybody was waiting until the Chauvin trial was over, and hopefully it was an outcome that everybody wanted,” Impagliazzo said. “Now that there’s so much looting and damage to people’s property, they’re just on edge that it’s gonna happen sooner than later.”
Business owners remember all too well, Minneapolis burring less than one year ago. The state’s governor hasn’t forgotten and promises he will not allow a repeat.
“We also witnessed last May that there are those that will exploit tragedy and we didn’t have the luxury of being able to plan ahead, and simply making sure that that doesn’t happen. we cannot allow our city to burn,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
Minneapolis Public Schools announced Friday that schools will be moved to remote learning Wednesday through Friday next week as the city readies for unrest and potential protests.
MPS announced Friday that schools will be moved to remote learning Wednesday through Friday next week as the city readies for unrest and potential protests.
“From Wednesday through Friday next week (April 21-23), all in-person learning students in all grades will return home for distance learning,” a statement from superintendent Ed Graff said in part. “Students will not be required to leave their homes to attend school for the remainder of the week, though school buildings will be open. Over these three days, no athletic events or Minneapolis Kids before- and after-school child care will be held.”
The school district was set to bring middle school students back to the classroom for the first time in more than a year. Middle school students can still attend in-person learning Monday and Tuesday but will go back to remote learning the rest of the week.
Closing arguments are set to begin Monday, after which the jury will begin deliberating.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death after the 46-year-old Black man was arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 at a neighborhood market last May.
Bystander video of Floyd gasping that he couldn’t breathe as bystanders yelled at Chauvin to get off him triggered worldwide protests, violence, and a furious examination of racism and policing in the U.S.
The most serious charge against the now-fired white officer, second-degree murder, carries up to 40 years in prison, though state guidelines call for about 12.
The city has faced further unrest because of the deadly police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man in a nearby Brooklyn Center last weekend.
Former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter in Sunday’s shooting of Wright during a traffic stop. The former police chief in Brooklyn Center, a majority nonwhite suburb, said Potter mistakenly fired her handgun when she meant to use her Taser. Both the chief and Potter resigned Tuesday.
Hundreds of demonstrators have gathered outside the heavily guarded Brooklyn Center police station every night since the shooting. Protesters have shouted profanities, launched fireworks, shaken a security fence surrounding the building and lobbed water bottles at officers. Police have driven away protesters with tear gas grenades, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and long lines of riot police.
MPS said Wright is a former student of Minneapolis Public Schools.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.