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Tensions High In Twin Cities Amid Wright Protests, Upcoming Chauvin Trial Verdict

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Tensions are high around the Twin Cities Sunday night, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is calling for calm as jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial are expected to be handed the case Monday.

"Minnesotans I think know we can't go through what we went through in May and June, and those folks who are out there asking for change need to be heard," Walz said.

Minnesota National Guard members are stationed everywhere throughout the city Sunday. Two guardsmen were injured in a shooting early Sunday morning in north Minneapolis near Penn and Broadway avenues. One guardsman was taken to a local hospital after getting hurt by shattered glass. The other had minor injuries. Officials say several gunshots were fired from a light-colored SUV. One went through the windshield of a Humvee.

Guardsmen are in the area to help police provide neighborhood security. Gov. Walz has requested help from the Ohio State Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.

The riots after the death of George Floyd last May damaged hundreds of businesses, especially in the Lake Street Corridor and Uptown. Now, business leaders are waiting to hear the verdict that could come this week.

WCCO spoke to Ken Sherman, owner of Seven Steakhouse and Sushi in downtown. He said COVID-19 has already been devastating for the restaurant business in central downtown, and he is anxious heading into the week.

"I don't get nervous about a lot. I think that this is an incredible situation, and I suspect that anything could happen," Sherman said. "I like seeing the National Guard on the street. You know, we pay taxes, I pay a lot of taxes and I expect to be kept safe."

Both city and state leaders have said they will protect peaceful protestors, but that looting and rioting will not be tolerated.

Minnesota National Guard Humvee Shot At
(credit: Minnesota National Guard)

Businesses have already been on high alert since the shooting death of Daunte Wright by Brooklyn Center police one week ago, which resulted in some scattered vandalism and looting of businesses from Brooklyn Center to Minneapolis. Crowds have also been protesting the killing every single night since.

Kim Potter is the former police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter for his death. Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon both resigned on Tuesday. Gannon said he believes Potter meant to use her Taser, but grabbed her gun instead.

Activists, mothers and teachers rallied in Brooklyn Center Sunday to call for murder charges against Potter. They were also outside the home of Washington County Attorney Pete Orput Saturday protesting for more charges, and they say they will be back. They also blasted Operation Safety Net, and some of the methods law enforcement have used this week like flash bangs, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Nekima Levy Armstrong of Racial Justice Network said during Sunday's rally that the responsibility falls on Gov. Walz.

"We will not rest until we see some form of accountability. Because as Daunte Wright's mother said, there's no opportunity for justice because she'll never see her son again. But there is an opportunity for accountability," Levy Armstrong said.

Teachers also advocated for children at the Brooklyn Center rally, giving out free goody bags to kids that included a book written by a Black author.

As many as 300 people also marched along St. Paul's Summit Avenue Sunday to call for Walz to make security changes. They also want police to stop using less-lethal weapons on protesters, which they say still cause serious and potentially life-threatening injuries.

Walz argues the National Guard members are in place to assure the confidence in business owners and residents that things will remain peaceful -- and to stop outside agitators from escalating peaceful protests.

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