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Our View: Does Chauvin trial security go too far?

It's clear the city does not want a repeat of what happened in the days following George Floyd's May 25 death.

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All eyes are on the Hennepin County Government Center, where former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the death of George Floyd. But perhaps the most watched trial in state history will be witnessed in person by very few.

Due to COVID-19 and security concerns, only 30 participants will be in the courtroom for Chauvin's trial, which started Monday with jury selection. Even the media are restricted. There will be one television reporter and one newspaper reporter in the 18th-floor courtroom during proceedings. All other media are relegated to watching a live feed from a room across the street.

Security at and around the government center is tight, and the public is barred from entering. Outside, concrete barriers control traffic, and chain-link fencing topped with razor wire wraps the building's two towers. The plazas on either sides of the building will be open to the public, with designated areas for demonstrators.

In addition to the fortifications at the government center, the area will be patrolled by thousands of National Guard soldiers and law enforcement officers. It's clear the city does not want a repeat of what happened in the days following Floyd's May 25 death, when peaceful protests gave way to riots, looting and arson, leaving 1,500 buildings damaged or destroyed.

The show of force for Chauvin's trial might also have been influenced by the Jan. 6 riot at the nation's Capitol.

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But some question whether the security measures are going too far. Could the city's efforts backfire, fueling anger in an otherwise peaceful crowd? Some say the security measures themselves are an indicator of how the trial will be conducted. If Chauvin were expected to be found guilty, would the city have addressed security concerns differently?

During a news conference on March 1, Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer defended the security plans.

"Remember what it was like in May and June," he said. "Remember the property destruction. Remember the violence."

In many cases, there is no need to remember. The scars are still there.

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