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Preparations for Derek Chauvin trial underway in Minneapolis

People will see "fortification" efforts and National Guard soldiers.

Barricades are going up and the Minnesota National Guard members will be in Minneapolis ahead of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial. 

At a news conference Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey stressed that the city is open for business and people should go about their day as usual, "but that doesn't mean there won't be changes in how we operate over the coming weeks and months."

The news conference comes amid the creation of Operation Safety Net, which is a team of local and state law enforcement officials that will work together to prevent civil unrest while allowing non-violent protests and demonstrations during Chauvin's trial in the killing of George Floyd, which is set to begin March 8. 

The trial for the other three officers involved in Floyd's death is scheduled for August.

Officials said Wednesday residents and those who visit Minneapolis can expect to see more law enforcement officers and Minnesota National Guard members, especially in areas that were damaged last summer following the unrest after Floyd's death.

Over the next few days, the city will begin installing "fortifications" around key infrastructure and police precincts, officials said. And National Guard soldiers will be working downtown to test radio systems ahead of the trial, which is standard, Minneapolis Police Deputy Chief Erick Fors said Wednesday.

Helping businesses

Fors on Wednesday stressed Operation Safety Net's commitment to deploying additional law enforcement officers to business areas of the city, especially those that were hit hardest during the civil unrest following George Floyd's death, in an effort to deter destruction. 

Meanwhile, the city is not encouraging businesses to pre-emptively board up, but is providing resources in case they choose to do so. 

City officials do recommend that businesses develop preparedness plans (Ready.gov has guidance) and they can contact the city (612-673-2499 or SmallBusiness@minneapolismn.gov) with any questions they have about preparing for the trial. 

Road closures, public transit disruptions

Disruptions to traffic in downtown Minneapolis will begin next week near the Hennepin County Government Center. On March 1, the city will shut down Sixth Street South (the street and sidewalks) between Third and Fourth avenues. 

Additional street closures are expected, with the city saying it will communicate that later. 

Meanwhile, Metro Transit is working on identifying plans in case there are disruptions to service. Detour around the Hennepin County Government Center are expected as the trial progresses and as the verdict approaches. 

Activating community groups

The City of Minneapolis' Office of Violence Prevention plans to fund a network of community groups that can be "activated" during "periods of heightened tension during the remainder of 2021," such as the trials of the officers involved in Floyd's death. 

The City Council's Policy and Government Oversight Committee on Wednesday afternoon is reviewing the request for the application process for the community groups.

38th and Chicago 

The City of Minneapolis plans to reopen George Floyd Square at 38th and Chicago, which is where Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin's trial.

On Wednesday, the city said it is sending out surveys to residents and businesses in the area to "determine a preferred option to preserve the memorial and art wile ensuring delivery of critical services in the area."

The City says it and Operation Safety Net will continue to provide updates about safety related to the Chauvin trial in the days and weeks to come. 

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