Minneapolis City Council raises concerns over heavy security surrounding Chauvin trial

Security enhancements are in place ahead of the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis.

As more barriers appear in downtown Minneapolis one week away from jury selection in the Derek Chauvin trial, it’s a very visible sign of how seriously law enforcement are preparing to prevent problems.

During an "Operation Safety Net" briefing Monday, both the FBI and the acting U.S. Attorney for Minnesota addressed the media about what to expect during and after the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in the death of George Floyd.

"Make no mistake, we welcome everyone’s right to be heard, and as Americans, we all understand the precious nature of our rights under the 1st Amendment," said U.S. Attorney Anders Folk.

Officials stressed repeatedly that they welcome peaceful protests, but, the lesson learned from last May is to be ready to stop violence or destruction. There is also concern about extremist groups or agitators.

However, authorities said there is currently no imminent, credible local threat to the trial.

The appearance of fortifications - which will extend across the Twin Cities this week - is one of the concerns the Minneapolis City Council addressed in a morning virtual meeting.

Officials said the fencing will be in place throughout the trial and afterwards.

"That’s quite an inconvenience, I’m sure to a lot of people, to have the government center closed for the length of the trial," said Minneapolis City Councilmember Cam Gordon.

Some are also concerned about the appearance of a heavy-handed police response in a case that centers on police violence, fearing that it can itself fuel a state of confrontation.

"I don’t know what registers as peaceful protest to the officers that are going to be out there, and I do fear escalation," said Minneapolis City Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison.