Minnesota Police Suggest Officers Won't Respond to Unrest During Derek Chauvin Trial
Police in Minnesota have said some agencies will not respond to potential unrest during the trial of Derek Chauvin because of concerns over "the continued demonization of law enforcement officers by certain public officials at various levels of government."
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, has been charged with unintentional second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after he pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, for close to 9 minutes during an arrest on May 25.
The incident was caught on camera and sparked protests against police brutality and Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the world. The phrase "Defund the police" became a progressive rallying cry and put law enforcement at the forefront of the political agenda in the months after Floyd's death.
State officials are now preparing for potential protests during the trial in March.
Colonel Matt Langer, head of the Minnesota State Patrol, said he intended to call in troopers from around the state during the trial and verdict, according to Minnesota Public Radio News. He reportedly added that local units who send backups wanted guarantees that they'll be easily reimbursed for overtime, lodging and other costs.
Governor Tim Walz has put forward proposals for State Aid for Emergencies in his budget, while the Minnesota House's Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Committee voted along Democrat party lines to advance a new $35 million fund to reimburse law enforcement agencies.
The proposal's fate in the Republican-controlled State Senate remains unclear, however, as some GOP lawmakers have argued that it would take money away from most of the state in order to bail out Minneapolis
The heads of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Minnesota Sheriffs' Association and Minnesota Chief of Police Association—who together represent about 10,800 law enforcement personnel—said some agencies might not respond to calls for extra help during Chauvin's trial, "no matter what legislation is passed."
"We are writing on behalf of the three largest statewide law enforcement associations in Minnesota," they wrote in a statement on Tuesday.
"We thank Governor Tim Walz for including the State Aid for Emergencies (SAFE) initiative in his budget proposal and highlighting its importance to the public safety community. We support the Governor's bill language as introduced and we are grateful for the open conversations about this issue over the past month.
"Our members remain concerned, however, that no matter what legislation is passed, the response for mutual aid will not be as robust as the public may expect.
"Our members' concern is due to the continued demonization of law enforcement officers by certain public officials at various levels of government."
Brian Peters, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, who signed the statement, told The Wall Street Journal last November that Democrats "signalled to us that they were coming after law enforcement" as they supported calls to defund the police and pushed numerous pieces of state criminal-justice legislation.
He told the newspaper his organization had traditionally backed more Democrats than Republicans in the state's legislative races but this changed in the November elections because of the stance on police.
Peters said: "That signaled to us that they were coming after law enforcement. We mounted a very aggressive stance and it hurt the Democrats considerably."
Chauvin is one of four former Minneapolis police officers charged over the death of Floyd and is the first scheduled for trial.