St. Paul police offering online workshops to help businesses prepare for possible unrest

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Businesses across the Twin Cities are preparing for possible unrest as the trial of Derek Chauvin is expected to begin.

Police in St. Paul are even offering online workshops to help with safety and security tips.

"This is the livelihood for my family," said Jorge Samperzelaya, owner of the Sunray BP in St. Paul.

For seven years, Samperzelaya has called the Sunray BP home. As the owner, he’ll do anything to protect it.

"This is where I come to work every day," Samperzelaya said.

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But during last spring’s civil unrest, images of looting and destruction brought fear and uncertainty to him and many of his fellow business owners.

"It was scary, mainly because you didn’t know what to expect," Samperzelaya said.

That’s why, ahead of planned protests during Derek Chauvin’s trial, St. Paul police are stepping in to help.

"I can imagine they are nervous, what happened last year was terrible for our business owners," said Natalie Davis, a public information officer with the St. Paul Police Department.

Davis said they’re offering online workshops for businesses designed to inform when protests are happening and steps they can take to be proactive.

There are several safe practices police recommend, including keeping ATMs at a good distance from any entrance and placing a protective film or barrier on any door or window. While liquor stores, pharmacies and places with ATMs and electronics may be higher targets, police said all businesses can take precautions. That includes updating lighting and security cameras or temporarily holding a smaller amount of inventory.

"We’re just taking all the necessary precautions to make sure that people are safe in our city," Davis said.

Last spring, a group tried to loot Samperzelaya’s store but eventually bailed. That’s one reason why he spoke with police this week about ways he can take action.

"To know that they’re in our corner, it’s great," Samperzelaya said.

While he hopes these measures are just precautionary this time around, Samperzelaya knows they will be useful for years to come.

St. Paul business owners interested in learning more about how to participate in these online workshops can find more information by clicking here.