Barbed wire and concrete barriers surround the courthouse where the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd will soon go on trial, the AP reports, a sign of the deep uneasiness hanging over a city literally set ablaze almost a year ago in the anger over his death. Mayor Jacob Frey and Gov. Tim Walz, both Democrats, were sharply criticized for failing to move faster to stop last summer's looting and destruction, which included the torching of a police station. Anything less than a murder conviction for Derek Chauvin is likely to test them—and the city—once again. Jury selection begins March 8 with opening statements March 29. Floyd, who was Black, died May 25 after Chauvin, who was white, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges; three other fired officers go on trial in August.
Frey said more than 3,000 law enforcement officers from across the state and Minnesota National Guard soldiers will be at the ready when the case goes to the jury, expected in late April or early May. Frey last week declared that Minneapolis remains “open for business,” and said people should go about their lives as usual. But the security going up around the Hennepin County courthouse, City Hall and the jail—all in the heart of downtown—is extraordinary. It includes three rings of concrete barriers, two topped by chain-link fencing with a trough in between filled with coils of razor wire. The innermost fence is topped with barbed wire, and ground-floor windows at all three buildings are boarded up. Protest leaders are on edge, too. They accuse authorities of creating a police state downtown that could trample their freedoms of speech and assembly.
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