Police departments across the U.S. are bracing for potential protests after the Derek Chauvin verdict.
Thousands of National Guard soldiers have been deployed throughout Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed and Chauvin, now a former Minneapolis police officer, waits to learn his fate from the jury, who are on their second day of deliberations.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Monday, “I am grateful to our colleagues in Ohio and Nebraska for their willingness to provide assistance and relief to our state troopers and law enforcement officers as they continue to work to keep the peace in our communities.”
The Department of Justice has also deployed specialists from its Community Relations Service — which specializes in conflict resolution and mediating disputes — to the Minneapolis area, two Justice Department officials said. Agency officials have been meeting with community stake holders in an effort to encourage the peaceful exercise of First Amendment activities, officials said. The deployment, which began about two weeks ago.
A state of emergency has been declared in the region.
Walz added, “We cannot allow civil unrest to descend into chaos. We must protect life and property, but we must also understand very clearly if we don’t listen to those communities in pain, and those people on the streets, many of them of whom were arrested for speaking a fundamental truth, that we must change or we will be right back here again.”
“It’s our goal together — the mayor, the community organizers, people across this state, from law enforcement to ministerial associations — is to try to make sure we strike that proper balance of making sure the peace and stability is upheld, but that equally is important is that rage that will be on the street regardless of what happens is channeled into a positive way, and that positive way means change,” he said.
Minneapolis Public Schools are shifting to remote learning Wednesday through Friday this week due to the trial.
In Washington, D.C., 250 National Guard troops have been activated. A guard spokesperson said those troops are only “preparing to support” the local police department, so their presence won’t be seen unless they’re needed by police. If the Washington police asks for their help, the troops can help with crowd control and will serve alongside police at traffic control checkpoints and at Metro stations.
The Chicago Police Department said last week that it was also deploying extra resources throughout the city.
The police department said “days off have been cancelled for members of the Community Safety Team, Critical Incident Response Team, Summer Mobile Patrol, all Area Detectives and additional specialized teams.”
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker tweeted Monday that he’s putting the Illinois National Guard on standby following a request from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“It’s critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice in our communities continue to be able to do so,” the governor tweeted. In Los Angeles, Police Chief Michel Moore said Monday that “added resources are already in play.”
“Our entire department is in uniform,” Moore said, according to the newspaper. The LAPD said it’s retrained thousands of officers in crowd-control tactics.