GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s second-largest city placed concrete barriers around the police department Tuesday as it prepares for protests when a verdict emerges in the trial of a former Minneapolis officer.
Grand Rapids had some of Michigan’s worst violence last May after the death of George Floyd. Police cars were set on fire, businesses were damaged and downtown windows were smashed. The National Guard was summoned.
“Whatever the outcome of this trial, we know people will be emotional and passionate in their reactions,” police Chief Eric Payne and City Manager Mark Washington said in a joint statement.
The city will protect the right to free speech and peaceful assembly, they said.
“We must also be on guard for those who seek to exploit these events to undermine the work we’ve already begun here,” Payne and Washington said.
Police are “aware that there are those who may attempt to hijack peaceful events to cause chaos and destruction, turning these events violent and unlawful,” they said.
Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on Floyd’s neck, is charged with murder and manslaughter.