MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - As the trial for one of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's death approaches, city leaders are promising security for the trial won't prevent peaceful demonstrations in the city.
There's been a noticeable increase in security around the Hennepin County Government Center over the past few weeks as the city and state partners prepare for the start of Derek Chauvin's trial.
"We know that with the beginning of this trial, it also means an increasing number of protests," said Mayor Frey.
City leaders say they know the heavily fortified Hennepin County Government Center, with multiple layers of fencing and barricades and barbed wire, looks daunting. But, they want community members to know it’s not there to stop protests and demonstrations. It's to prevent a repeat of last spring's riots.
"Those outside instigators that were certainly present in late May and early June, they seek to cause disruption and chaos in our city by using peaceful protestors as cover," said Mayor Frey. "By using them as a shield."
Mayor Frey has been meeting with community groups and activists who worry about the mutual aid that will be present, like outside agencies and the National Guard, may be less sensitive to peaceful protests.
Frey and the police chief assure they’ve all had state-mandated de-escalation training, some got additional training, depending on their assignment.
"We support that First Amendment peaceful participation," said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
Chief Arradondo stressed again that none of this aims to interfere with free speech.
"Setting fire to structures of any kind will not be tolerated," said the chief. "Illegal fireworks, throwing objects, as well as pedestrians going onto our freeways, that cannot be tolerated and so we want to make that very clear."