On edge: Guard soldiers share thoughts on potential aftermath of trial over George Floyd’s death Nine Line News Team March 11, 2021 Nine Line News, Relentlessly Patriotic As jury selection begins for the trial of the policeman charged in the death of George, Minneapolis has begun preparing for potential protests – regardless of the verdict. According to some reports, the city and surrounding county have already spent more than $1 million on fencing, barricades, and barbed wire. “Some in our communities may find some of the environmental structures that they see — barricades and barriers and fences — perhaps a little bit daunting,” said Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo “But, as we saw during the events of Jan. 6 (in Washington DC), that is a preventative tool we have to consider and have to look at.” Last summer, in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz listed the total cost of damages at $500 million and estimated nearly 1,500 businesses were impacted by looting, fire, or vandalism. A protester carries a U.S. flag upside, a sign of distress, next to a burning building Thursday, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis. Protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody Monday, broke out in Minneapolis for a third straight night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Now the city has six different law enforcement agencies standing by, including roughly 2,000 National Guard troops stationed in the city. One of those troops is 21-year-old Caitlin Weege. She was on duty last summer as well when she was a corporal in the Minnesota National Guard’s 257th Military Police Company. 21-year-old nursing student at Duluth’s Lake Superior College, sat in the extended back bed of a big Army truck as it rumbled down the street in Minneapolis. Weege can remember how she felt when she got out of that military truck with her fellow soldiers. Weapons in hand, they wore full riot gear, grabbed their heavy plastic riot shields, and marched toward a bridge with instructions to block off roads so state troopers could do their jobs. “I was nervous, very nervous,” she said. “We didn’t know what we were walking into. It became real at that point: ‘Hey, this is the time to step up and do your duty and be a professional.’ ” Since last year, Weege has been promoted to team leader. Her experience from May and June last year— the fear she felt, the raw emotions she faced — has stuck with her, but she emphasizes to her soldiers that their goal is encouraging protests to stay peaceful “You can also see how much emotion, the frustration and sadness [the protesters are] seeing, and you understand where they are coming from,” Weege said. “But you’re very much like, ‘OK, let’s do what I need to do.’ We’re there for their safety. We want them to be able to safely protest.” Since last year’s unrest, Guard leadership has emphasized to its members that even though they’re wearing the uniform, they’re still part of the community. Col. Scott Rohweder, the Minnesota National Guard’s director of operations and commander of the 84th Troop Command said, “It’s not easy providing security at a site and having fellow Minnesotans screaming in your face, treating you as if you’re not necessarily the enemy but treating you differently than what you’re there to do. You’re not used to doing these missions in your own backyard.” Sgt. First Class Dan Fealy of the 34th Military Police Company out of Stillwater is an instructor at the annual training for reaction forces. Trainers teach five different tasks: riot control, unit radio communication, checkpoints, and roadblocks, establishing liaisons with local law enforcement and civilian organizations, and reacting to chemical and biological weapon incidents. “It’s not personal — it’s all business,” Fealy said. “That’s how we teach it. The protesters are doing their job. They have a right to do it. And we’re doing our job. We’re not going to stop them from protesting.” Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.