MINNEAPOLIS — There's a stillness lingering over downtown Minneapolis as streets are quieter than normal, and some businesses are either boarded up or closed for good.
However, among those who make a living in downtown there's also a heightened sense of anxiety.
"Yes, there is a level of seriousness here, there's a level of security that needs to be upheld," said Eli Fhima, Director of Operations at Fhima's Minneapolis.
"There's weariness and there's concern," said Tanya Spaulding with Shea Design.
Concerns that stem from a disastrous 2020 for businesses downtown, partly because of the pandemic, and partly because of a summer that was met with riots and protests in the wake of George Floyd's death.
"We're still paying for that so we don't want to take another two steps back," said Spaulding.
Now, almost a year later, the city and business owners find themselves preparing for the unknown yet again with the Derek Chauvin's trial potentially bringing another round of devastation.
This time though, downtown business owners can at least plan for what could be ahead.
"We're not getting caught flatfooted, I think we've seen the worst of the worst, so we know what to prepare for," said Spaulding.
As part of that preparation, city leaders sent a letter to business owners encouraging them to work together, seek additional private security, and to make sure things like insurance policies are up to date.
However, not every business is heeding the warning even after being looted twice last year.
"As far as boarding up we're not going to, we're going to operate six days a week as normal," said Fhima.
A decision Fhima Resturaunt owners say is based on trust and not being overrun by fear.
"To put trust in our leaders and trust in our community to keep us safe," said Fhima.
Extra officers will be present throughout downtown during the trial, but for the businesses still standing, safety in numbers will be key this time around.
"We really are from a downtown business perspective trying to bind ourselves together and learn from each other and really help each other out," said Spaulding.
A message to the business community about the upcoming Chauvin trial
(from city of Mpls)
The trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, planned to begin in early March 2021, will draw national attention to the city. Businesses are open downtown and throughout Minneapolis during this time and the City will continue to provide services.
The City of Minneapolis is working with Hennepin County, the State of Minnesota, and Federal partners to have a coordinated safety plan during the trial and after the verdict, collectively known as Operation Safety Net. The goal of this effort is to preserve and protect first amendment non-violent protests and demonstrations, and to prevent large scale violent civil disturbances, property damage, and more. Business owners can expect to see law enforcement presence downtown and in commercial corridors throughout the city during the later stages of the trial.
Businesses have faced a tremendous amount of challenges over the past 13 months, through the pandemic and unrest. With the impact from last year's unrest still visible, business and property owners want to know what they have to do to keep their properties secure and workers and customers safe.
Businesses and property owners may choose to take additional actions in preparation or during the trial. We recommend you consider overall emergency preparedness plans. Ready.gov has samples plans for businesses that can give you a sense of the questions to consider. During this time period you may also want to consider:
• Adding physical security measures, such as boarding or permanent security gates
• Checking in with your insurance company and make sure your policy is up to date
• Uploading electronic copies of important documents and records to an online cloud service (for example: Dropbox, Google Drive) and/or bring physical copies to an off-site location
• Continuing to build connections with your neighbors and sharing contact information so that it's ready if you need it
• If you want additional security personnel and choose to go with a security company, please fully protect yourself and property by only hiring licensed security personnel. These are the people with will carry their own insurance and have training.
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Stay tuned to news from Operation Safety Net on Facebook and Twitter.
For other questions or to report issues, see the contact list below:
• Call 911 for life safety emergencies requiring police, fire or EMS
• Call the MPD Tips Line at 612-692-TIPS (8477) to report suspicious activity not requiring an immediate response
• Businesses and property owners should reach out to SmallBusiness@minneapolismn.gov or 612-673-2499 with questions about:
o Advanced preparation before the trial
o Business operations during the trial
o General information about regulations and resources
• Call 311 for non-emergency City information