Major cities across America are making preparations in anticipation of potential Black Lives Matter and Antifa violence that may follow the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
After weeks of testimony in the trial, closing arguments are slated to begin Monday, but as the jury deliberations begin in the days ahead, many of the same cities marred by violence last summer say their work to plan for demonstrations, riots, and unrest was started months ago.
Former #Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial is scheduled to begin Monday. We want you to know we’re ready to protect people and property, and protect your First Amendment right to protest. #OperationSafetyNet #MNOSN https://t.co/3Vl0q1LLQF— Minnesota OSN (@MinnesotaOSN) March 2, 2021
Minneapolis, the epicenter for much of the unrest that spread across the country last year, has already been working to safeguard the courthouse inside which Chauvin is being tried. Despite having state and local authorities coming together for Operation Safety Net, violence still erupted over multiple nights in Brooklyn Center, just north of Minneapolis, this week.
After covering the unrest in-person, Julio explains that "it looks like the fatal flaw with Operation Safety Net was how the cities outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul do not have extra reinforcements the Twin Cities have, potentially meaning rioters and looters will go to more valuable areas to wreak havoc."
Because officers were occupied with guarding the Brooklyn Center police building, stores nearby, like this Dollar Tree, was ransacked by looters. pic.twitter.com/dMPZ463O6Y— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) April 13, 2021
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that city officials have spent months preparing for potential unrest in reaction to whatever decision the jury in Minnesota reaches. Their preparations coincide with Chicago officials' spooling up "to prepare for a tenfold increase in unrest this summer."
Chicago police prepare for release of Toledo shooting video, Chauvin verdict https://t.co/gN7wrvhZXa— NotaryPro1 - Cathy Crayton-Gray (@CraytonGray) April 10, 2021
Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department issued force-wide notice that "the Department will be fully activated to support expected First Amendment demonstrations" beginning with first watch on April 19. Additionally, all days off have been canceled, optional sick leave has been suspended, and members "should be prepared to work extended tours as necessary."
??NEW >> DC Police Department initiates FULL DEPARTMENT ACTIVIATION...— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) April 15, 2021
• In anticipation of possible #DerekChauvin verdict protests.
• All days off canceled, no new leave, 12 hours on, 12 hours off, beginning Monday
• Activated until further notice@WUSA9 @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/LCzXWuaP2E
Law enforcement officials in Los Angeles called for calm earlier this week as looting and violence returned to the streets of Minneapolis suburbs. Officials were clear that lawful First Amendment expression in reaction to a verdict in the Chauvin trial would be protected, but "if these actions become violent or shift into lawlessness, swift and decisive action will be taken to protect life, protect property, and maintain order in a fair, firm and impartial manner," said a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Los Angeles law enforcement officials, faith leaders and community activists held a news conference at #LAPD headquarters. They’re hoping any protests following the verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin will be peaceful. 11pm @ABC7 pic.twitter.com/Mtbib7LjF5— Amy Powell (@abc7amy) April 13, 2021
In New York City, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters Thursday "we certainly have a tough week or two up ahead" and noted the department has been planning to handle the city's reaction to the Chauvin trial outcome for "nearly a year." NYPD has been going about its preparations "behind the scenes with everyone from grassroots organizations, elected officials, clergy and making sure that whatever happens we do it peacefully and we do it without violence here," explained Shea. "I am confident that is what’s going to happen."
In Philadelphia, outlets have reported that "police are preparing for the worst."