THOUSANDS of National Guard troops have been drafted in to Minneapolis as the city braces itself for riots when the imminent verdict in Derek Chauvin's trial is given.
It comes as countless protesters took to the streets when the closing arguments were heard on Monday, with demonstrators brandishing signs that read "Blue Lives Murder" as they demanded justice for George Floyd.
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Shops and businesses have boarded up doors and windows as the Minnesota city transformed into a fortress over the weekend, with vandals smearing pig's blood and leaving a severed pig's head at the home of an expert witness for his defense.
More than 1,100 officers from public safety agencies across Minnesota have also been brought in to help stem any potential unrest, as the city waits with bated breath over a verdict in Chauvin's trial.
Some 3,000 guardsmen have also deployed by the Minnesota National Guard to assist cops as President Joe Biden is said to be considering how to deal with the situation.
All schools in the city have also been moved to remote learning from Wednesday in anticipation of any violence.
A verdict could be returned as early as the end of this week after closing argument in George Floyd's murder trial were heard on Monday, with jurors retiring to mull the fate of ex-cop Derek Chauvin.
The former Minneapolis police officer is facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and third-degree manslaughter.
All three of the charges are separate, meaning he could be found guilty of all, some, or none of them.
Ahead of a potential acquittal, some businesses have even hired private security firms to guard their premises through any protests or riots.
St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Melvin Carter also told CNN the city has "an enormous amount of safety measures" in place to quell any potential violence.
Carter said his biggest concern ahead of a verdict is "making sure that everyone in our community knows that there is justice in our justice system for them.”
“We are all eyewitnesses, we all know what we saw and nothing that happened in the trial changed any of that,” Carter said.
“And so, when the entire world gets to see it that clearly, at some point, this trial also becomes a trial of our criminal justice system…A trial to determine if this legal system that delivered us separate but equal, that has delivered us so many horrific decisions throughout the course of history, if this system is capable yet of valuing Black and Brown lives.”
In the early hours of Sunday morning, two members of the National Guard were hurt in a drive-by shooting.
While neither suffered serious injuries, local officials said the incident highlights the "volatility and tensions" in the community right now.
Elsewhere in the country, the former home of a key defense expert witness who testified last week that George Floyd's death was "accidental" was vandalized in California.
The incident occurred early Saturday morning in Santa Rosa as vandals sought to target former California cop, Barry Brodd.
In a statement, the Santa Rosa Police Department said that while Brodd no longer lives at the home, they believe the perpetrators were attempting to target him over his testimony.
Brodd, a use-of-force expert, took the stand last Tuesday where he claimed Chauvin was justified in kneeling down on George Floyd's neck for over nine minutes, did not use deadly force, and said he was "acting with objective reasonableness."
Then, at around 3am on Saturday, a group of vandals dressed in all black were seen throwing a pig's head and dashing red liquid over a home where Brodd once lived several years ago.
The group reportedly fled as the current occupiers of the home dialled 911.
Around 45 minutes later, the same vandals are believed to have drenched a statue at a nearby mall and left a sign that read, "Oink Oink," police said.
The vandals have been accused of felony vandalism but have not yet been identified.
Prosecuting attorney Stephen Schleicher led the state's final appeal to jurors in the trial on Monday, accusing Chauvin of failing to uphold the standards of a police officer and intending to inflict harm on Floyd.
He had to know,” Schleicher said, emphasizing that Chauvin had knelt down on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, even as he felt him going limp beneath him.
“He did it on purpose. This was not an accident. He is not on trial for who he was. He is on trial for what he did. That is what he did.
“He knew better, he just didn’t do better.”
Meanwhile, Rep Maxine Waters "won't apologize" after the judge presiding over the Derek Chauvin trial blasted her for telling protesters to "get more confrontational" if the ex-cop is acquitted of killing George Floyd.
The California Democratic congresswoman told rioters to "stay on the streets" and was slammed by Judge Peter Cahill for what he described as an "abhorrent" intervention.
Waters has been widely criticized after telling protesters to "stay on the street and get more active, more confrontational" if Chauvin is not found guilty during a riot in Minnesota following the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.
Judge Cahill told the court in Minneapolis that Waters' comments at a rally in the city on Saturday could even see a guilty verdict appealed and overturned – after ex-cop Chauvin's attorney argued the jury has been unduly influenced.
Despite this, Waters has doubled down on her words and claimed remarks "don't matter" so therefore she need not apologize.
"The judge says my words don't matter," the 82-year-old said, reports CNN.
Then, when pressed on the judge saying her comments could have handed Chauvin's defense grounds for appeal, she said: "Oh no, no they didn't."
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