LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It’s in the jury’s hands as the country waits for a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial and many cities including Las Vegas are preparing for potential unrest.
One downtown business owner is keeping tabs on the latest news and has plans in place in case something happens.
A picture remembering George Floyd and a Black Lives Matter sign. Both visible at VegeNation in downtown Las Vegas.
“Well, that’s a cause I believe. Social justice. So, I think hey, it’s time for change and I’d like to see change in a positive way.”
Owner Donald Lemperle remembers the George Floyd protests last year and says most people were peacefully protesting. His restaurant remained relatively intact.
“Some graffiti spray-painted on the windows and the walls. Just a little bit of elbow grease and we got rid of everything,” he said.
Lemperle expects protests to happen no matter what the verdict is from the Derek Chauvin trial and is focusing on keeping his workers and customers safe.
“We’ll send the staff home early and close the restaurant down, and we’ll inform the police to keep an eye on the door for us.”
He doesn’t plan on boarding up his restaurant and doesn’t think a potential protest downtown will get too out of control. If something does happen, he says he’s prepared.
“Property damage, that’s something that can be fixed. We don’t want any of our employees or anyone getting hurt as a matter of fact,” Lemperle said.
UNLV African American studies professor Tyler Parry says he expects protests to happen regardless of the verdict.
“I think the energy now with most social activist movements is to continue to maintain this movement in order to continue the conversation,” he said.
A conversation around police brutality and reform. Dr. Parry says the protests either will focus on a perceived lack of justice with not guilty verdicts or continuing to push for change with guilty verdicts.
“Awareness still needs to be raised within inequities in the justice system. What feeds into this type of violence that persists among police departments and in these communities,” he said.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police says it’s prepared for any potential protest saying in a statement:
“The LVMPD remains vigilant as national incidents of unrest are ongoing. Our officers remain ready to respond to any situation that may arise locally and have resources readily available.”
Dr. Parry says the vast majority of the George Floyd protests last year were peaceful, with many in the streets committed to non-violent forms of protest—and doing so with a purpose.
“They are doing so with the expectation that legislators, local leaders, and national leaders are going to pay attention to what they’re actually asking,” he said.