Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States – A few hundred protesters gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on Monday, where the trial of former policeman Derek Chauvin, indicted in the death of George Floyd, should start this month.
Many protesters have expressed concern over whether Chauvin would be convicted in Minnesota’s first publicly broadcast trial, making it one of the most watched cases of police brutality in recent history.
But they pledged to uphold their demand for Chauvin’s conviction.
“We will continue to run for the community,” said NAACP Minneapolis Vice President Anika Bowie. “We understand that justice will prevail in us. We will come forward, and we will be very persistent, questioning the system. “
Jury selection was originally scheduled to begin on Monday, but a court ruling that the judge must consider adding a third degree murder charge pushed at least Tuesday.
Chauvin is currently facing charges of second degree murder and manslaughter after kneeling at Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes during a May 2020 arrest that was filmed.
Three other officers, who did not intervene because Floyd has repeatedly said he cannot breathe, will be tried together in August for complicity.
Lawyers for Chauvin, who was fired from the police the day after Floyd’s death, argued that he had completed his training properly, Reuters news agency reported.
An unusually long period of three weeks was allotted to find an impartial jury – a task that was probably difficult.
The questionnaire for prospective jurors includes questions on their prior knowledge of the case, which stimulated mass manifestations for racial justice in the United States and around the world.
Other high profile cases
As a rotating list of speakers addressed the crowd in Minneapolis, Josh Simms, 28, stood quietly with a sign saying, “We demand justice.”
Simms said he moved from Chicago to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota in 2013. During that time, four high profile police murders took place in the Minneapolis area.
In 2015, Minneapolis police shot and killed 24-year-old Jamar Clark. The two agents present at the scene – the city never specified which officer had pulled the trigger – were not charged.
Less than a year later, in a nearby suburb, Philando Castile, 32, was repeatedly arrested and shot by police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who was ultimately cleared by a jury of second degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.
“There really hasn’t been a change,” Simms told Al Jazeera. “Knowing how the story is, there is a chance that he (Chauvin) will be acquitted.”
A few months after Yanez’s acquittal, Minneapolis policeman Mohamed Noor, who is Somali, killed Justine Damond, who is white, after calling to report a possible sexual assault in his neighborhood. Noor was convicted of third degree murder and manslaughter and sentenced in 2019 to 12.5 years in prison.
“[Noor] was put in jail. But all these other police officers who kill these brothers are getting nowhere, ”Darion Scott, 46, who has lived in Minneapolis for 20 years, told Al Jazeera on Monday.
“This system has been down for years. The question is, when is it going to end? “
‘It’s our responsibility’
On the other side of the government building, a group called Visual Black Justice put up mirrors against trees and next to signs with various messages, such as “Minnesota will be the change” and “Better to protest than to accept. injustice. “
Rose petals surrounded a large mirror in the center of the lawn of the building on which was inscribed “Reflect”.
“We all have a role in white supremacy,” said Tay Elhindi, co-leader of the group. “So we have to think and hold ourselves accountable. If we don’t, we can’t hold anyone else responsible. “
Protesters also wrote messages on closed windows lining the street.
Mimi Vallejo, 25, sat with her two-year-old son as her partner emphasized the message ‘Free the caged children’ – a reference to children who have been held in cages in US immigrant detention centers on the US-Mexico border.
“It’s getting to the point where I think our kids need to be aware too,” she said.
Vallejo, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico as a child, said she grew up fearing the injustice of her government for facing the same problem in the United States.
“This fear has always been there for us,” she said. “As people who also experience or have experienced the oppression and racism of the system, it is our responsibility to be here … The system that killed George Floyd is the same system that keeps my loved ones at the border. in cages.