Hundreds of demonstrators marched through Minneapolis streets over the weekend and returned again on Monday in the hours before what promises to be an absolutely critical murder trial in the national effort for justice following the death of George Floyd.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black father, was killed on May 25, 2020, when Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Chauvin faces charges including second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and potentially third-degree murder after an appeals court ruling made way for a judge to reconsider the initial decision to toss the charge out, according to MSNBC. Protesters advocating for justice in the case have their eye narrowly targeted on just that—making sure Chauvin is held accountable for the devastation he’s accused of causing. In that effort, demonstrators also sought to bring attention to the more than 470 other people killed by Minneapolis police. They marched on Sunday from the city’s government center to Hennepin Avenue with an enlarged scroll of each victim’s name, Minneapolis photojournalist Chad Davis said in a tweet. “Organizers point out Chauvin was involved in 5 of the names,” he added.
The nonprofit Communities United Against Police Brutality, which activist Michelle Gross founded, created the list, according to The Star Tribune. “The city had four chances to stop Chauvin before he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and they did nothing,” Gross told protesters on Sunday. “These are people whose families are left to grieve. These are people who will never complete their life’s mission because their lives were stolen from them prematurely.” When she read a few names from the list she asked the crowd: “It’s sobering, isn’t it?” In Chauvin’s 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department, he was the subject of at least 17 misconduct complaints but was only disciplined in one, The Star Tribune reported.
Following Floyd’s death, more than 150 churches partnered with a grassroots organization dubbed Pray for MN. Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy director of the Council on American Islamic Relations’ Minnesota chapter, told The Star Tribune the group’s effort on Sunday was about remembering George Floyd as a man before the trial became the central focus. “We have to remember that a man lost his life, a family lost a brother, a family lost a father, they lost a son, they lost an uncle,” Ibrahim told the newspaper.
That had already happened by early Monday, with jury selection having started at 9 AM Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill was slated to start questioning, followed by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson, NPR reported. “Winning a conviction will be hard,” Ellison told NPR. “I say this not because I doubt our resources or our ability, in fact we’re confident in what we’re doing. But history does show that there are clear challenges here.”
The challenges delayed jury selection when Chauvin’s defense team announced it would seek guidance from the Minnesota Supreme Court regarding the third-degree murder charge, CBS-affiliated WCCO-TV reported. The judge initially ruled jury selection would begin as planned after learning the defense did not want to delay proceedings.
Cahill later delayed the case until at least Tuesday morning to allow the prosecution to file its appeal regarding the third-degree murder charge.
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