Southland Braces For Protests As Derek Chauvin Trial Nears End

Derek Chauvin Murder Trial For Death Of George Floyd Continues In Minneapolis

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Law enforcement agencies across the Southland will be in a state of readiness this week as the Minnesota murder trial of a former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd nears an end, raising concerns about a repeat of mass protests and unrest that occurred last summer.

Beverly Hills police will be on “full alert'' in the city's residential and business districts this week as the trial of Derek Chauvin concludes, and will be working with “other law enforcement personnel and private security companies.''

“While we are hopeful for  a peaceful time following the verdict, the Beverly Hills Police Department is well-prepared and committed to protecting our city,'' police Chief Dominick Rivetti said in a statement Friday night.

City officials noted that some businesses may choose to limit their operations, and the city could take other “preventative measures'' to protect city facilities and property.

Santa Monica interim police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks said in a video message to the community that the department has already begun ramping up its visible presence around the city.

“You'll see our enhanced presence throughout our community,'' she said.

“Because peaceful assembly as expressive conduct is protected by the First Amendment, the Santa Monica Police Department is committed to assisting and facilitating in this peaceful freedom of expression,'' she said. “... The women and men of your police department are steadfastly committed to you and your safety. According, we've been closely monitoring the events in Minneapolis and within our region. As we make other preparations, which include multi-agency collaborations and internal systems review ... as of this recording there's been no indication of any threats or any activities specifically targeting our community.''

She said community alerts will be issued if that changes. She also said the city has prepared and posted online a checklist for business owners, providing tips for how to prepare for possible civil unrest.

The Culver City Police Department issued a statement saying it is also monitoring the situation with the Chauvin trial.

“We would like to assure the community that the Culver City Police Department has an operational plan in place and is prepared to appropriately respond to any incidents occurring within our city as a result of the verdict,'' according to the agency. “We will also have additional uniformed patrol officers in the field to respond to calls for service and provide a highly visible presence around the city.''

Sheriff Alex Villanueva and LAPD Chief Michel Moore have been vocal in urging people to protest peacefully following the verdict.

Villanueva said the sheriff's department is communicating with state and local law enforcement agencies “as to their state of readiness,'' including the California National Guard, which could be requested for assistance if conditions demand.

“I strongly support the First Amendment and the people's right to protest, but if these actions become violent or shift into lawlessness, then swift and decisive action will be taken to protect life, protect property and maintain civil order,'' Villanueva tweeted over the weekend. “This will be accomplished in a fair, firm and impartial manner, in accordance with the law and 21st century policing concepts.''

Villanueva also issued a warning to the media, saying deputies will support reporters in their efforts to cover protests, “but that support does not extend into allowing members of the media to become part of the problem once an assembly has been declared unlawful.''

Last week, Villanueva, Moore and about two dozen religious and community leaders gathered in front of LAPD headquarters to plead for calm following the verdict in Chauvin's trial.

Chauvin is accused of murder for kneeling on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while arresting him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill last Memorial Day. Floyd's death sparked nationwide protests, including in the Southland.

“All of us will do all within our power to support and facilitate these expressions within our community,'' Moore said of possible protests following the verdict. “As one community, our Los Angeles community, we must also strive to not allow legitimate anger and frustration to spiral into violence, or allow others to hijack community emotions for their own destructive purposes.''

Photo: Getty Images

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