With the atmosphere in Minnesota resembling the tension that presages a storm, the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin enters its final phase this week.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday. Next will come jury deliberations, with no clear timeline in sight for when a verdict will be handed down.
“If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short,” Judge Peter Cahill said Friday in speaking to the jurors, according to NPR. “Basically, it’s up to the jury how long you deliberate, how long you need to come to a unanimous decision on any count.”
Chauvin faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in connection with the May death of George Floyd.
Both sides have enlisted experts. Those summoned by the prosecution have placed the blame on Chauvin for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes. The defense’s experts have said that Floyd was a walking cocktail of drugs and these were what, in fact, killed him.
But in this trial, the legal process is one piece of a wider picture that includes protests that have veered into rioting over the past week after Daunte Wright, 20, was shot to death by a police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11.
Activists have said the rampage that devastated parts of Minneapolis last year after Floyd’s death will be a paltry shadow of what is to come if Chauvin isn’t convicted.
“It will explode,” said Faries Morrison on Saturday while visiting a memorial to Floyd, according to NPR. “It won’t riot; it will explode. It will be a revolt.”
Early Sunday, a drive-by shooting left two Minnesota National Guard members injured.
The shooting “highlights the volatility and tension in our communities right now” Guard commander Maj. Gen. Shawn Manke said, according to The Washington Post.
The tension has led Minneapolis to halt in-person classes as of Wednesday, fearing unrest after the verdict.
About 3,000 Guard troops and 1,000 police officers from elsewhere in Minnesota have been deployed throughout Minneapolis in what’s called Operations Safety Net as officials prepare for violence no matter which way the verdict goes.
But the response, which debuted amid the Brooklyn Center looting and rioting that followed Wright’s death, is already taking flak. Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, the community’s first black mayor, has opposed arresting protesters.
“We have to approach policing in a different way, in a more humane way,” Elliott said, according to The Post.
The Minneapolis City Council has also called for kinder, gentler responses to rioting and on Friday passed a resolution opposing the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other less-lethal weapons.
“We have seen a version of what the Operation Safety Net tool kit is and what [its] approach is, and I think it’s very important that we speak out now to say this is not what we want in our city,” council member Steve Fletcher said.
“This is not something that represents Minneapolis values. This is not the way we want to be responding to protesters. This is not the way we want to be responding to crowds of people in our city,” he said.
Mohamed Keynan, a business owner, said he is glad to see there is protection against looters.
“When I see the police and when I see the military, I feel comfortable,” he said, according to The Post. “I at least feel like they will protect our neighborhood.”
But he is still uneasy.
“If [Chauvin] gets off, everything will be upside-down,” Keynan said. “Everyone is very nervous, because we just don’t know what is going to be happening.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.