But the security going up around the Hennepin County courthouse, City Hall and the jail — all in the heart of downtown — is extraordinary. It includes three rings of concrete barriers, two topped by chain-link fencing with a trough in between filled with coils of razor wire. The innermost fence is topped with barbed wire, and ground-floor windows at all three buildings are boarded up.
Protest leaders are on edge, too. They accuse authorities of creating a police state downtown that could trample their freedoms of speech and assembly.
“It’s not going to dissuade us from protesting. We’re determined to let our voices be heard,” said Linden Gawboy, an activist with the Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar, which formed after the police killing of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis in 2015.
It’s not just the courthouse that’s barricaded. The state Capitol in St. Paul has been ringed with temporary fencing ever since last summer’s unrest. Inside, lawmakers have squabbled for weeks over providing extra state money for security during the trials, though Walz and other officials say they’ll manage one way or another.
“There’s going to be very high emotion on all sides of this, and we’ll be prepared,” Walz said.
Julie Ingebretsen, owner of a Scandinavian food and gift market on Lake Street that was founded by her Norwegian grandfather, said she’s not boarding up, though she expects some will in the miles-long commercial corridor that includes many immigrant- and minority-run businesses. Some have never taken down the plywood that they put up last summer.
While Ingebretsen’s Nordic Marketplace was looted and vandalized, she said she was fortunate that her store wasn’t burned. She said she feels “cautiously optimistic” now because of personal outreach efforts by Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and other city officials, and their assurances that plenty of police and Guard members will be standing by.
“We’re celebrating our 100th anniversary this year, so we have every intention of celebrating another 100, and not going anywhere,” Ingebretsen said. “We are totally committed to keeping moving forward.”