ST. PAUL — Minneapolis is set to receive assistance from up to 1,100 law enforcement officers and 2,000 Minnesota National Guard soldiers to help keep the peace throughout the trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin next month.
In the first of what are promised to be “very regular” briefings over the next few weeks, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday morning, Feb. 17, told reporters that city officials have been “working their tail off” to formulate public safety plans over the coming months. Pending the latest appeal from prosecutors, jury selection for Chauvin’s trial is set to begin March 8.
“Safety is a top priority through this very difficult time in our city,” Frey said. “We need to make sure that our communities, our businesses, families throughout the city are safe and feel safe, regardless of where they live and regardless of where they work.”
As the trial draws nearer and the impacts of last summer’s civil unrest still reverberate throughout the Twin Cities, the question of public safety has entered the spotlight. Local and state officials have said that the trial will bring international attention, and potentially violence from locals and even outside agitators.
Unlike the explosive unrest that followed George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis on May 25, Frey said Wednesday that officials have had time on their side, so officials can be proactive rather than reactive.
“As we’ve seen in so many other cities as we lead into trials involving Black men that have been killed by police officers, there's great frustration, there’s anxiety and there's trauma,” Frey said. “We believe it is on us to honor the magnitude of this moment and ensure that our families in the city feel safe.”
The city has secured mutual aid agreements from at least 12 jurisdictions who plan to back up Minneapolis Police to help keep the peace throughout the trial, including local, county and state units, as well as the National Guard. And city officials said Wednesday that they have been reaching out to community activists and networks — including those who are often isolated, such as non-English speaking, immigrant and BIPOC communities — to keep communication lines open, attempt to rebuild trust in the city and police and stave off disinformation campaigns.
City Attorney Jim Rowader said Wednesday morning that jury selection for the trial is on track to begin March 8. Judge Peter Cahill will be presiding over the case, which will be livestreamed due to public demand and the coronavirus pandemic. Rowader said the prosecution is expected to deliver opening statements on March 29, then they will call their witnesses. The defense will then do the same.
“We expect this whole process to last until mid- to late-April,” Rowader said.
Contact Sarah Mearhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-790-4992.