Tensions are running high. With the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin potentially coming as early as next week, they are also coming to a head. But while the threat of protests may have little to no impact on the verdict in this case, in the highly likely event of a hung jury, they may well determine whether Mr. Chauvin is re-tried on some or all charges.
Further complicating the situation, on Sunday night another young black man in Minnesota, Daunte Wright, was killed by the police, this time in an egregious but potentially accidental shooting at a traffic stop. Within hours, a small gathering at the scene had turned into rioting and looting of local businesses—again. It can be difficult to make sense of these events in isolation, but without a doubt tensions are escalating as the Chauvin trial nears its conclusion.
Of course, the current unfolding of events is hauntingly reminiscent of the events following the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, the 1992 verdict acquitting the officers involved, and riots that ensued. Specifically, what can we predict? Pre-Chauvin verdict, people are on edge, but the Daunte Wright shooting will likely not lead to widespread protesting or violence outside the immediate Minneapolis metro area. There are, however, already “Emergency Response” protests scheduled in Minneapolis intended to commence as soon as the Chauvin verdict is announced. But what verdicts and outcomes will exacerbate—or potentially calm—the potential for a violent response?
Clearly a verdict of guilty on all counts has the potential to calm the crowd, though with three other officers involved in the George Floyd killing, it is far from clear that guilty verdicts across the board for Mr. Chauvin will result in calm. On the other end of the spectrum, acquittal on all counts is almost certain to result in immediate and violent reactions—not just in Minneapolis, but around the country.
The most likely outcome, however, is neither across the board acquittal or conviction. Rather, the most likely outcome—and the least discussed—is that of a hung jury on one or more counts. While it is impossible to state with certainty the outcome of the Chauvin trial in advance, Alpha Recon assesses that the most likely outcome is a conviction on the manslaughter charge, and a hung jury on both of the murder charges. This will not only inflame tensions and likely lead to violent protests, but it will leave the prosecution with the difficult decision of whether to re-try Mr. Chauvin on the murder charges.
Additionally, in the event of a hung jury, protests are most likely to have a significant effect on whether prosecutors decide to re-try Mr. Chauvin. Regardless of their anger or actions, protestors will not have any substantial impact on the outcome of this initial trial. However, in the event the prosecution is called upon to decide whether to re-try Mr. Chauvin on the more serious charges, their decision may very well be swayed by the degree of violence and sustained unrest caused by the resulting protests.
Alpha Recon is current providing real-time intelligence support to security personnel on the ground in Minneapolis and throughout the United States—contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate a live demo of our SecuRecon Risk Intelligence Platform.