Cities across the country are preparing for protests as the jury in the murder trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin entered its second day of deliberations on Tuesday. With the memory of last summer’s protests after George Floyd’s death still fresh, some states have ordered National Guard troops to be on standby in anticipation of large protests if there is an acquittal.
Police chiefs are urging protesters to be peaceful, and businesses in many cities, from Indianapolis to Los Angeles to New York, are boarding up windows. The courthouse where the trial is being held is surrounded by razor-wire, fencing, concrete barriers and dozens of National Guard troops.
It will be up to each governor to decide whether troops or law enforcement will be necessary to help with possible protests. So far, Illinois, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., have done so.
Here’s how cities are preparing:
Minneapolis: On Monday, Gov. Tim Walz declared a “peacetime emergency” and said that state troopers from Nebraska and Ohio would come to Minneapolis to help overwhelmed local and state law enforcement. There are already 3,000 National Guard troops in Minneapolis and 1,000 law enforcement officers, including state troopers. The force is patrolling the downtown and metropolitan areas.
Construction workers boarded up dozens of additional buildings downtown on Tuesday morning. The local police and sheriff’s deputies patrolled the streets in squad cars near the courthouse, focusing on shopping centers. And businesses set up additional concrete barriers and fencing, making it harder to access parking lots and entrances. Some businesses have taken to spray painting or posting signs to alert customers that they are open, even if windows appear covered. On one corner downtown, at least six National Guard Humvees were parked with about a dozen guards.
Washington, D.C.: On Monday, the National Guard was called up in case of protests through May 9, according to a news release. Last summer, the Guard used chemical irritants, including tear gas, and a helicopter to try to clear Lafayette Square, the plaza in front of the White House, drawing criticism about the heavy-handed policing of the protests.
Chicago: Gov. JB Pritzker ordered state troopers and 125 National Guard troops to help law enforcement in Chicago. The authorities in Chicago were already on edge after the police released a video of an officer shooting Adam Toledo, an unarmed 13-year-old boy, on April 16. The protests so far have been peaceful. But last summer, the city took to raising the bridges in downtown Chicago to prevent protests from reaching major retailers, fearing violence similar to that in Minneapolis.
New York: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hasn’t ordered National Guard troops to New York City. Last summer, the city’s Police Department, which has more than 30,000 officers, handled the protests after Mr. Floyd’s death. The first nights of protests last year ended in sporadic violence and looting in SoHo and Midtown.