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Minneapolis has spent $645K on barricades ahead of Chauvin trial

City leaders plan to bring in thousands of police officers and Guard soldiers to prepare for possible unrest

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Anthony Souffle

By Liz Navratil
Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis officials are spending more than $600,000 to place fences and other barricades throughout the city as they prepare for the first trial in George Floyd’s death.

The bulk of the money, about $515,000, is being used to protect the city’s five police precincts. Another $130,000 is going to barricading City Hall and the new Public Service Building, both of which are near the downtown courthouse where former Officer Derek Chauvin will be tried.

The barricades and plans to bring in thousands of police officers and National Guard soldiers have drawn criticism from some City Council members and community groups who say they fear it will further escalate tensions in a community that has already been traumatized. Others have welcomed the plans, saying they want city leaders to do everything they can to thwart of a repeat of last year’s riots, which lasted for days and resulted in damage to more than 1,500 buildings.

“While some in our communities may find some of the environmental structures that they see — barricades and barriers and fences — perhaps a little bit daunting,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a news conference Thursday morning. “But, as we saw the events of Jan. 6, that is that preventative tool that we have to consider and have to look it.”

Minneapolis leaders hope they will eventually be able to use state aid to cover the costs of the fences and barricades, as well as the assistance from other police departments, City Coordinator Mark Ruff said.

But that state aid isn’t a given. Minnesota lawmakers are trying to break through a stalemate over the creation of a new $35 million account that could reimburse agencies that provide mutual aid, including for the Chauvin trial.

“Our hope is that we will continue to see eligibility for almost all of our costs, including the fencing,” Ruff said. “If that’s not the case, it’s like any other unexpected expenditure within the city. We work with the mayor and the council to come up with options to fill that budget hole.”

(c)2021 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)