Military presence draws mixed reaction from Twin Cities residents

The visible presence of military in the Twin Cities is prompting mixed reactions from residents, as the community awaits a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial.

Thousands of armed National Guard members are stationed on corners and in front of businesses. Some say the visibility makes them feel safe, while others say their presence is unwelcome.

"Maybe the intentions are good, but the feeling is off," said one woman in Uptown Monday. "I think it’s supposed to be a protective thing and it’s supposed to make us feel safe, but it really doesn’t."

Guardsmen have been visible across the metro the last week, since protests and looting broke out in Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis following the police shooting of Daunte Wright. 

Sunday, soldiers were shot at in Minneapolis’ Jordan neighborhood. Days earlier, roughly 50 guardsmen were kicked out of the St. Paul Labor Center, as some members raised issue with their presence at the building.

"These are citizen soldiers--this is their home as well, so it does trouble them to hear comments say go home or in this case to the extreme have somebody shoot at them," said Major General Mike Wickman. "We do understand and we will do everything we can to not be an overbearing presence." 

Guardsmen have been met with thanks as well, as restaurants and citizens donate food.

‘They’re protecting our city," said Tim Nowak who delivered snacks to soldiers in Uptown Monday. "We appreciate them being out here and protecting our businesses."

Wickman says they are aware of the concern and that they continue to try not to be an overbearing presence.

"It really is in reaction to what was believed to be a lack of reaction last year," he said.