Chicago authorities are preparing for potential reaction to a verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, bringing in National Guard troops and additional officers "out of an abundance of caution."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said there is "no actionable intelligence at this time" of planned events in the city in response to the verdict, which was reached Tuesday afternoon and expected to be read soon after.
Lightfoot said some Illinois National Guard troops were arriving in Chicago Tuesday at the city's request and more were expected to come Wednesday, but the troops will remain on standby unless needed.
"I know that a lot of people in our city are concerned about their safety and I want to make sure that we are doing absolutely everything that we can to keep people safe," Lightfoot said Tuesday.
"My responsibility is to learn from every experience that we have and make sure that we are better prepared because of that learning - and we are," she added. "So we have them here. They are on standby if we need them."
The state said it would send 125 total members to Chicago to "carry out a limited mission to help manage street closures. The troops will not "interfere with peaceful protestors exercising their First Amendment rights," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
“At the request of Mayor Lightfoot, I am activating members of the Illinois National Guard to support the city in keeping our communities safe,” Pritzker said in a statement Monday. “It is critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice that holds back too many of our communities continue to be able to do so. Members of the Guard and the Illinois State Police will support the city of Chicago’s efforts to protect the rights of peaceful protestors and keep our families safe.”
Soldiers being sent to Chicago "are specially trained in riot control operations," officials said.
"My hope is that we will continue to see what we really seen since last fall, which is peaceful expressions of people's emotions," Lightfoot said. "First Amendment rights."
Chauvin, 45, was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in George Floyd's death last May, which sparked nationwide protests and unrest in several major cities across the U.S.
Prosecutors contended that Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd by pinning his knee against Floyd’s neck, ignoring bystanders, his own training and common sense. The defense argued that the now-fired white officer acted reasonably and that the 46-year-old Black man died of an underlying heart condition and illegal drug use.
All three charges against Chauvin require the jury to conclude that his actions were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd's death and that his use of force was unreasonable.
Second-degree intentional murder carries up to 40 years in prison, third-degree murder 25 years, and second-degree manslaughter 10 years. Sentencing guidelines call for far less time, including 12 1/2 years on either murder count.
In a press release, the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications said that it will "coordinate the operational response to" any incidents related to a verdict.
"Infrastructure assets will be strategically placed to ensure the safety of residents, neighborhood commercial corridors and critical businesses," OEMC said in a statement.
In addition to the National Guard troops, Illinois State Police will also offer troopers to the city, Pritzker said.
"I think we've got a very robust plan in place, really honed through our experiences last summer," Lightfoot said, referring to protests and unrest that followed Floyd's death and other events during the summer months. "We've done a significant amount of live drills and tabletop exercises, really trying to anticipate any potential scenario. So I feel like we as a city are way better prepared than we had been to keep our residents safe, and we're communicating that to stakeholders across the city."
As of Tuesday afternoon a number of businesses were seen with boarded up windows in downtown Chicago.
Lightfoot continued to urge peaceful reactions Tuesday, but shared a message for anyone planning to loot in ways similar to scenes seen across the city last summer.
"Don't don't test us. Don't test us," she said. "We are ready, we are prepared, and we are ready to arrest and bring the prosecution. Anyone who would dare try to take the dreams of our small businesses by looting, don't test us because we are ready."