By Bruce Karnick [email protected] Monday, March 8th, a date many folks have been looking forward to and dreading at the same time as our neighbors to the northwest prepare to have the eyes of …
By Bruce Karnick
Monday, March 8th, a date many folks have been looking forward to and dreading at the same time as our neighbors to the northwest prepare to have the eyes of the nation and world upon them. Minneapolis has been preparing for the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for months. Pictures have circulated around social media with all the barricades and precautions taken to protect the courts.
For Hastings, we sit less than 45 minutes from the courtroom that will determine the legal ramifications of the actions surrounding the death of George Floyd. Many people are very worried, no matter the outcome, that there will be chaos and riots. As of right now, the best thing we can do is love and support each other and simply treat each other with kindness and compassion.
Officially with the trial, jury selection, which is expected to last three weeks, was scheduled for 8 a.m. Monday. Jury Selection was already delayed as of Monday morning pending more information from the Minnesota Court of Appeals. There will also be a motion hearing, as the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the trial, was wrong when he refused to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.
Chauvin was charged with one count of second-degree felony murder and one count of second-degree manslaughter in the death last May 25 of George Floyd. Floyd, 46, died after Chauvin reportedly kneeled on his neck to restrain him for up to nine minutes. The death set off a rash of protesting and rioting throughout the Twin Cities and the nation.
Three other former Minneapolis officers also charged in connection with Floyd’s death – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao have trials scheduled to begin starting Aug. 23. Those three stand charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
In Minneapolis, police and National Guard troops will patrol major commercial corridors to prevent a repeat of the looting, arson and property damage that occurred following the death of Floyd.
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Police Chief Bryan D. Schafer Schafer
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Some local stores, including Walmart in Hastings, were closed amid unrest last May. Many municipalities issued curfew orders and told people to stay in their homes unless travelling to or from work as an essential worker. Hastings was one such community and it was eerie driving through town to work. Normally bustling roads had maybe three cars. Pine Street, normally a racetrack, had no cars on it most times of the day.
Extra patrols were added around the city and officers were stationed at key entry points to town along major roadways for a few days, watching for vehicles known to be transporting instigators and providing general security and safety.
In the following months, Minnesotan’s flocked to their respective agencies for permits to purchase and permits to carry firearms, many citing the civil unrest and the pandemic as reasons for wanting the protection of a firearm. Dakota County had the second highest number of permits issued in the state at 7,754. Only Hennepin County saw more at 11,346. For Minnesota as a whole, 2020 saw nearly double the permits total, 96,554 issued than 2019 did, 51,404.
Stores as close as West St. Paul were vandalized and looted, but thankfully no fires were started. Groups of peaceful protestors started popping up all over the place, including Hastings. Folks demonstrated with signs and chants showing support for Black residents across the nation. Locally, groups started forming, holding gatherings to discuss race relations and local leadership continued to work towards improving relationships with all residents. One such event was the Hastings THRIVE event held at the Rotary Pavilion, of which several law enforcement officers participated in, including Hastings Police Chief Bryan Schafer, who released a statement around 1 p.m. on Monday. Here is that statement: A Message from Hastings Police Chief Bryan D. Schafer March 8, 2021 Hastings Community: The trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin is set to begin in Minneapolis this week. The events leading up to the tragic death of George Floyd will be replayed throughout the trial through video testimony and social media, once again evoking a wide range of emotions for victims, citizens, and the policing community. This will be a difficult time for us all and it is more important now than ever that we support and respect one another.
The civil unrest, violence, and destruction of last summer will forever be etched in our minds and will no doubt elicit fear as the trial begins. Rest assured, Hastings Police Department’s primary obligation is to protect human life and to treat everyone with respect and dignity. As a police department, we will not interfere with peaceful assemblies and demonstrations. At the same time, we will not tolerate unlawful behavior or the destruction of property, as these behaviors threaten the safety of our residents and our community.
For several months, the Hastings Police Department has been preparing and collaborating with our local and East-Metro agencies to ensure the safety of our community during and after the trial. Your help in protecting our community is needed as well. If you see something, say something by call- ing or texting 911.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has established social media channels to provide accurate and up-to-date information. Operation Safety Net social media channels are the best place to find official, accurate and upto- date information about public safety response and activities surrounding the trial of Derek Chauvin. Please follow those channels & share with your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors.
As proud servants and protectors of our community, the Hastings Police Department remains committed to providing fair and impartial service to ALL residents and visitors.
Operation Safety Net information can be found at safetynet.mn.gov or searching for MN Operation Safety Net on Facebook. Follow the Hastings Journal on Facebook as well and we will do our best to share urgent and updated news related to Hastings and the trial.