CINCINNATI -- The way Gary Gabbard sees it, protesting is free speech at its finest in a democracy.
Gabbard and his wife own Kitty's Coffee on Court Street, one of many small businesses near the Hamilton County Courthouse. With the upcoming trial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, most people think everything's going to be just fine, but they're making contingency plans just in case.
"Most protests are going to be peaceful," Gabbard said. "I'm comfortable with protests. I love the idea of it. I'm all about it. So, I expect it to stay peaceful."
Tensing is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of motorist Samuel DuBose. The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Kitty's Coffee closes early enough most days that Gabbard said he can avoid problems. However, he's leaving nothing to chance.
"I'll be here, ready to react to whatever I do see. I'm not going to leave the staff here at any point," he said.
A few doors down, at Cuban Pete Sandwiches, owner Nelson Fonticiella knows the Tensing cases is very emotional. He and his regulars have talked about the trial and the possible impact on business.
"We're considering changing our hours -- opening a little earlier, closing a little earlier," Fonticiella said. But, like Gabbard, he expects cooler heads to prevail.
Acme Lock and Hardware has been a mainstay on Main Street, in business for 84 years. Dan Monahan said the trial isn't causing a lot of concern, but he'll keep a close eye on things. The store considers its neighbors, business people and police officers as customers, and Monahan wants to be there for them.
"We're still going to be open for business. Our people will know to be cautious, to be aware of what's going on," Monahan said.
But, he added: "If they start throwing rocks and bricks and garbage cans, sure, we'll lock it up, but absolutely, we'll be cautious."
Contingency plans are also in place at the Hamilton County Administration Building and other county-owned buildings in the Downtown core.