I.n Minneapolis is again a state of emergency. Helicopters circle over the city. Administration buildings are protected with high steel fences. Roads have been closed and National Guard armed units are patrolling the northern United States city. Merchants have boarded up the windows and doors of their shops. Since Monday, the jury in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin has withdrawn for deliberations.
Political correspondent for North America based in Washington.
After three weeks, the hearing, in which 45 witnesses and experts were questioned, ended with the closing arguments. The feelings are mixed: many observers believe that the prosecutors did their job well, and that Chauvin’s attorney did not succeed in presenting a coherent defense strategy – especially the nine-and-a-half-minute video in which the policeman his knee presses on the back of George Floyd’s neck that he is the best key witness.
How does “Black lives matter” react?
Still, there is a fundamental doubt among civil rights activists and activists: Could there be no just punishment again in the end? It is the most important process in Minnesota state history. All sides are aware that a judgment that is too mild from the point of view of the “Black Lives Matter” movement could spark a new wave of violence across the country. Of course, this must not play a role for the jury. The twelve men and women were isolated in a hotel and cut off from the flow of news.
There is a vigil in front of the Hennepin County Administration Building, the seat of the court, on Monday evening. Several hundred supporters of the “Black Lives Matter” movement have gathered in front of the steel fence. Baptist pastor Al Sharpton and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson pray with representatives of the Floyds family. Relatives of Daunte Wright, who was accidentally shot and killed by a white policewoman – allegedly – nine days ago in Brooklyn Center, ten miles from Minneapolis, have also come. Later, a group of Native Americans with feathered headdresses dance amid the protesters.
Everything is very peaceful. An elderly white lady calls for an end to police violence. Young black families have appeared with their young children. But some people in black hoodies and combat boots mingled with the demonstrators. You have a hard hat on your backpack. In any case, you are prepared for the worst case scenario. When the African American George Floyd was killed eleven months ago in the police operation in Minneapolis, the worst unrest in America began since the days of the civil rights movement.
“Merciless use of force”
On the police vehicles of the Police Department of Minneapolis the motto of the officers is: “To Protect with Courage – To Serve with Compassion”; protect with courage – serve with compassion. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher recalled this motto in his closing argument on Monday. The defendant Derek Chauvin violated the police’s code of conduct. His excessive and merciless use of force killed Floyd. Floyd pleaded with Chauvin to let him breathe while he kneeled on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd was lying on the floor, handcuffed. He didn’t resist, he even talked to Chauvin with “Mr. Officer “addressed. In the first five of the nine and a half minutes, he gasped 27 times that he could not breathe. The police officer heard this, the prosecutor said, “but all he did was make fun of him.”
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