In the immediate aftermath of guilty verdicts being lodged against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, local expectations of violent protest in Minneapolis became the shoe that didn’t drop, sending security officials into a welcome stand-down.
“We geared up for anything that can go wrong in terms of civil unrest,” one mobilized National Guard soldier privately told Just the News on Tuesday night. “Thank God it hasn’t happened.”
In preparation for potential violent responses to verdicts, local officials created Operation Safety Net, pairing the National Guard with civilian law enforcement. As the trial neared its end, some 3,000 soldiers, along with city and state police, sheriff’s deputies, and other law enforcement personnel, poured into Minneapolis, where the case was being heard. Equipped with weapons, protective gear, and armored vehicles, the security officers stationed themselves on key roads and outside vulnerable buildings.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Monday spearheaded a solemn news conference, where he and others seemed to anticipate lesser verdicts for Chauvin.
“The eyes of the world are watching our city, are watching our region, our county and our state,” Arradondo said, adding that the community previously helped the region endure difficult times, and will provide strength “for us to move forward.” Other speakers, including a sheriff’s official, urged calm, and implored people to commit to de-escalating violence.
“We’re here to protect people, freedom of speech and property,” officials wrote in a statement. “If you’re active, be peaceful. And always be safe.”
On Sunday, fears of violence escalated when a security team from Operation Safety Net [OSN] was fired upon in a drive-by shooting. Two members of the National Guard sustained minor injuries.
On Tuesday, OSN officials reported an act of violence, when someone smashed the window of a conservation officer’s truck, and stole the officer’s service rifle. Elsewhere in the city, people marched peacefully and largely without incident. No one was arrested. Still, the city was suffused with ominous foreboding, seemingly headed toward the type of destructive violence that previously wracked the city.
Authorities in Minneapolis scheduled a news conference to take place at 4 p.m. on Tuesday to report updates from Operation Safety Net.
“Officials will discuss the ongoing preparations to prevent the violent disruption of peaceful protests as the jury continues to deliberate in the Chauvin trial,” the group announced in a press release.
An hour later, after the guilty verdicts were announced, the group postponed its news briefing, and did not offer a new time. As of early Tuesday evening, the demonstrations inside the city were marked not by violence, but by celebration.
The Minnesota National Guard did not immediately respond to questions about whether its soldiers would be deactivated and sent home.