How much confidence do the business owners and the municipal government of Minneapolis have in the ability of the citizens to respect the rule of law and the court system? Judging by the looks of things at the start of the week, not very much. Closing arguments came today in the trial of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. We have no way of knowing if the jury will return a verdict in a matter of hours, days or weeks. But in anticipation of that verdict being anything other than guilty on all charges, shops are throwing up plywood and turning the city into what the New York Post describes as a fortress. Hardware stores are running out of lumber and nails faster than if a hurricane was about to hit a coastal city. Police stations and municipal buildings are also erecting barriers of various sorts. It’s estimated that traffic flow will be restricted across large parts of the city in the coming days, with only emergency travel being possible. Police in riot gear and National Guard vehicles are a regular sight everywhere you turn. And it’s all being done because a constitutionally mandated jury trial is coming to a close.
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.
It’s really worth a click to look through the various photos at the Post. Some of the measures being taken by building owners and managers to convince the anticipated mobs of looters and rioters to pass them by are both heartbreaking and pathetic at the same time. One apartment building has plywood covering all of the windows and doors. On it are spraypainted a series of messages. Of course, they have the ubiquitous “Black Lives Matter” slogan. Additionally, they have written “Kids Live Here,” as well as “People and Pets Live Here.” None of that is very unexpected, but just for good measure they added “FTP” and “F*** The PD.”
Can you even imagine that? They are so desperate to send a signal to the mob saying, “See? We’re on your side! Screw the police!” The bad news for these people is they’re not dealing with protesters for a cause when the mob comes calling. As we’ve seen in other cities for more than a year now, those gatherings may begin as some sort of protest with a message. But once the sun goes down, thieves and predators who mix in and swell the mob, go looking for loot and prey. Spraying sympathetic messages on plywood isn’t going to deter them.
The courthouse where the trial is taking place is surrounded by barbed wire and fencing standing ten feet tall along the edge of the property, with security gates spaced out at regular intervals. Closer in near the court building itself, concrete blockades topped with security fencing and backed up with razor wire form a second barrier. That might be enough to keep the mobs away from the courthouse, but the police precincts in the area are much less heavily defended.
The National Guard troops and their vehicles are concentrated in the areas closest to the courthouse and the downtown shopping district. That’s unlikely to prove 100% effective, however. Two National Guardsmen were injured in a drive-by shooting early Sunday morning. Vandalism of Guard vehicles and police cars is a regular event. And all of that has been taking place before the trial was even over.
This is all unfolding as only a backdrop to what’s happening in the country today. This entire conflict stopped being about George Floyd long ago. The outcome of the trial probably doesn’t matter all that much by now. One element of the mob mentality out there is focused on opportunism and looting or simple wanton destruction. The other element is driven by angry leftists who are at war with the system and no outcome from any individual trial is going to restore order, though they will still demand a pound of flesh from the courts and municipal governments as if it might. I will be thrilled beyond words if I turn out to be wrong about this, but I somehow doubt it. Minneapolis is about to go up in flames and it won’t matter what charges Derek Chauvin is or isn’t convicted on.