Updates on the Derek Chauvin Trial from Revcom.us

A Blog

The trial of Pig Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis is underway. Chauvin is now charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

The outcome of this trial—and what the masses of people do in an effort to determine that outcome—will have consequences. The system must not be allowed to let Chauvin off, or to give him a slap on the wrist—Chauvin must be punished for straight-up murder of George Floyd. So it is very important that people have begun to stand up and fight to prevent what could be a terrible injustice on top of an utter horror from going down.

But to really get free... to put an end to the kind of horror that the world saw go down on that Minneapolis evening but that goes on and has gone on all the time, year in and year out, over the centuries... to end the oppression of Black people as part of ending all forms of oppression and exploitation all over the world, people need science and they need leadership. So the most important thing is that through this struggle for justice, more people are enabled to learn about, to get into, and to get organized around the scientific understanding of the problem and the road to the solution—to revolution, nothing less—brought forward by Bob Avakian.

Last summer Bob Avakian wrote a number of important works going into issues raised by the murder of George Floyd and the massive struggle against police brutality and institutionalized racism that arose in its wake, as well as other critical issues in that period, including the struggle against Trump-Pence fascism. Go here for some of those articles; and go here for other seminal works by Bob Avakian on the oppression of Black people, the possibility of ending that oppression through revolution, and its connection to revolution. And go here to learn more about Bob Avakian’s historic relation to this struggle.


A statement from Bob Avakian: NOTHING LESS!

To all those who have årisen up so powerfully and are demonstrating to say “No More!” after the murder of George Floyd, and all the other cold-blooded murders by police.

To all those who have drawn inspiration from this righteous uprising.

To all those who have had the blinders forced from their eyes and have been provoked to think anew about what kind of country it is that we live in.

This has raised the biggest questions about what is needed for people everywhere to live fully as human beings:

AN END TO INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM
AND MURDER BY POLICE—NOTHING LESS!

AN END TO ANY WAY PEOPLE ANYWHERE ARE
USED, ABUSED, AND BRUTALIZED—NOTHING LESS!

We need a world without white supremacy and male supremacy—a world where no one is regarded as “alien”—a world without war, where people from all over the globe, with a beautiful flowering of diversity, act together for the common good and are truly caretakers of the earth.

THIS IS NOT JUST A DREAM.

The possibility for this is being powerfully demonstrated in this uprising of the people, of all different races and genders, from all parts of the world—refusing to remain silent or stay passive while all this oppression and brutality goes on.

To Make All This Real
We Need: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

A strategic plan for how to make this revolution, and a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a radically different and much better world, where all this can become possible—can be found in the work I have done, including the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

You can learn more about this revolution and become part of making it a reality by going to revcom.us and joining with the revcoms.

We do not need to live in this world where so much of humanity suffers so unnecessarily under this system of capitalism-imperialism that cannot exist without exploiting and degrading people, suffocating their humanity and killing them without mercy. We can do much better! Don’t listen to talk about how “it can never happen.”

Look around you—what seemed impossible yesterday is happening right now! Revolution, why should we settle for anything less?


Days 12 and 13 of the Trial of Derek Chauvin (Tuesday and Wednesday, April 13 & 14)

The Dishonorable Defense of Derek Chauvin: George Floyd Could Have Been “Resting Comfortably” Under Chauvin’s Knee, But Instead Chose to Kill Himself With Heart Disease, Drugs and Carbon Monoxide, and by Struggling to Breathe

For 11 days the prosecution presented powerful testimony and evidence that Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd: eyewitnesses, medical experts, use of force experts, and extensive video of the murder.

On Tuesday, attorney Eric Nelson launched Derek Chauvin’s defense. So far, the key to this has been two witnesses: Use of force expert Barry Brodd, and forensic pathologist Dr. David Fowler. These “experts” asserted that what the cops did to George Floyd was not only legal and justified, but also had nothing to do with his death.

Barry Brodd:

Brodd—a former cop steeped in the murderous outlook of the police—literally tried to turn reality upside down. For instance, it took the prosecutor several minutes to get Brodd to admit that Chauvin was on top of Floyd! Then Brodd asserted that “maintaining of the prone control is not a use of force” and “it does not hurt.” When the prosecutor showed Brodd video of Floyd’s face, contorted in pain as it was crushed into the pavement by Chauvin, Brodd acknowledged that it “could be” a use of force. Brodd argued that Floyd crying, “I can’t breathe” was proof that he could breathe (a fallacy [false belief] that had been previously exposed by a world-renowned pulmonologist.)

Brodd went so far as to claim that Floyd was “struggling” for several minutes after he was face down, handcuffed and under three cops. The prosecutor asked if Brodd meant, “struggling or writhing?” Brodd answered, “I don’t know the difference,” [!] and then followed this up by saying that Floyd should have been “resting comfortably” instead of struggling to breathe!

Brodd was forced to walk some of this back: ultimately he agreed that prone restraint “could be” force, that cops have known for 30 years that it is dangerous, and that after Floyd lost consciousness, Chauvin “would know that he’s not resisting.” But he still stuck to his position that Chauvin “was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement.”

Dr. David Fowler:

Dr. Fowler, a forensic pathologist, is the former chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland.11

Fowler argued that “Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia... due to his atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease... during his restraint and subdual by the police.” In other words, Fowler says that Floyd died of heart disease “during” police “restraint and subdual” but not because of restraint and subdual. As the prosecutor put it, Fowler was arguing that it was just coincidence that Floyd was under police restraint when he died.

Fowler went at this in two ways. One was that he played up—or outright made up—various health issues that he said, “could have” led to Floyd’s death. Floyd did have high blood pressure, a slightly enlarged heart, and narrowing of his coronary arteries.12 A respected cardiologist13 had already testified that there was no evidence that any of these was the primary cause of Floyd’s death, and video showed him walking around happy and healthy minutes before his encounter with the police. But Fowler claimed that heart disease was the main cause of death.

Grasping at other straws, Fowler went on at great length about the role of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning because Floyd was being held down [Note: held down] near the exhaust pipe of the police patrol car. Under cross examination it came out that there was zero physical evidence of carbon monoxide poisoning in the autopsy, and that Fowler didn’t know how much CO the car emitted, or even whether the car was turned on while Floyd was being held down. Similarly, Fowler spoke extensively about a paraganglioma in Floyd’s abdomen—a type of tumor that in 10% of cases may at times secrete adrenaline that may speed up the heart rate, so… “heart attack!” The prosecution pointed out that there are only six recorded deaths in the entire world from paraganglioma!

Fowler was somewhat more effective in attacking the prosecution theory—put forward by a series of renowned medical experts last week—that Floyd died of lack of oxygen due to positional asphyxiation. (That is, that the combination of Chauvin’s pressure on Floyd’s neck, coupled with the weight of the cops pressing him down on the sidewalk while his shoulders were pulled back by the handcuffs—sharply restricted his ability to get oxygen, leading to his slow death over five or six minutes.) Fowler did this largely by citing studies done by Dr. Mark Kroll14 and others that supposedly showed prone restraint was safe. As the prosecution pointed out, these experiments were done on gym mats not concrete, used young and healthy volunteers who knew that they would be let up if they felt any distress, and, crucially, none of them was done for nine and a half minutes and none involved a knee on the subject’s neck.

Fowler was forced to concede some important points, particularly that if the cops had given Floyd “immediate medical attention” when he no longer had a pulse, that could “well have reverse[d] the process.”

Still, Fowler’s efforts to discredit the reality of prone restraint being dangerous may have created enough confusion—enough un-reasonable doubt—to provide a justification for one or more pro-police jurors to dig in their heels around. And the defense only needs one such juror to prevent a conviction.


11. Fowler is being sued by the family of Anton Black, a teenager who died in 2018 while being held down by three cops, struggling to breathe, and calling out for his mother. The family accuses Fowler of covering up the police role in his death.  [back]

12. Arteries carrying oxygenated blood from the lungs to the heart.  [back]

13. A doctor specializing in the heart.  [back]

14. It is worth noting that Dr. Kroll sits on the board of Axon Enterprise, the company that makes Tasers and has over three million dollars of stock in the company. Tasers themselves are frequently implicated in police killings.  [back]

Ex-Medical Examiner Witness for Chauvin Called the Police Killing of a Black Man in a Similar Case an “Accident”

One of the key witnesses called by Derek Chauvin’s defense is David Fowler, who was the chief medical examiner for Maryland until 2019. Fowler claimed on the stand that George Floyd died because of pre-existing heart problems and drug use, not because of Chauvin and other cops holding Floyd face down on the ground, with Chauvin’s knee on his neck for over nine minutes.

Two and a half years ago, when a young Black man died after being held down by pigs in a case that echoes the police murder of George Floyd, Fowler officially categorized the death as an “accident.” On September 15, 2018, in Greensboro, Maryland, 19-year-old Anton Black—an aspiring actor and model—ran from the police. According to his family, Black was having a mental health crisis. Body cam footage from one of the cops—which was only released months after the incident—shows Black being tased, handcuffed and forced face down onto the ground. Then multiple cops along with a white “civilian” put their weight on him for over six minutes. Struggling to breathe, Black—like George Floyd—cried out for his mother before his life was crushed out of him.

A report on Anton Black’s death signed by then-medical examiner David Fowler declared that Black died of “cardiac arrest while being restrained by law enforcement” and that bipolar disorder was “a significant contributing condition.” The report said that “no evidence was found that restraint by law enforcement directly caused or significantly contributed to the decedent’s death; in particular, no evidence was found that restraint led to the decedent being asphyxiated.”

The family of Anton Black has been fighting for justice, and in December 2020, they filed a federal lawsuit against Fowler and a number of police and local officials involved in the case. The lawsuit accuses Fowler and his office of having covered up “the obvious cause of death—prolonged restraint that prevented Anton from breathing.” Attorney Sonia Kumar of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland said, “The medical examiner blamed Anton for his own death—peppering its report with false claims about laced drugs, a heart condition, and even Anton’s bipolar disorder—instead of the police who killed him.”

As reported by Intercept, Fowler’s decisions exonerating police in killings have been challenged in other cases, among them the following:

* In 2016, Tawon Boyd, a 26-year-old Black man, called 911 for help. Instead of providing help, the Baltimore County cops who responded punched him and restrained him in a prone position. Boyd became unresponsive after being administered antipsychotic medication and died three days later. Fowler’s office cited drug use and “excited delirium” and classified Boyd’s death as an accident. An independent pathologist retained by the family said Boyd “died as result of asphyxia after restraint.”

* In 2013, Tyrone West, 44-year-old Black man, was beaten and kicked in the head by Baltimore pigs, who then pinned him to the ground in a prone restraint position similar to Floyd and Black. West’s breathing became erratic, and he later died. Fowler’s office blamed West’s death on his heart problems “complicated by dehydration.” A forensic pathologist who conducted an independent investigation concluded, “The main cause of death is that [Tyrone West] was restrained in such a way that he was unable to breathe.”

Week Two of the Trial of Derek Chauvin
Expert Witnesses Confirm What the World Saw on Video: Chauvin Murdered George Floyd

The first week of testimony painted a devastating picture of a crime—the cruel murder of George Floyd at the hands of police—through the eyes of bystanders who witnessed it. And it brought out Floyd’s humanity, especially through the testimony of his girlfriend, Courteney Ross.

The second week focused on expert testimony on two issues: whether police use of force against Floyd was legal under Minnesota law, and whether this force was the cause of Floyd’s death. Police in the U.S. have a mandate from the authorities to exercise brutal force—including deadly force—on a routine basis, and the legal system almost always backs them up.4,5 In that context, this week’s testimony will likely have a big impact on the outcome of the trial.

 

Gallery of people recently murdered by cops. We Say: NO MORE!

 

Police Use of Force:

Was the police use of force against Floyd allowable under MPD policy?

Derek Chauvin and two other cops held George Floyd face down on the pavement, hands cuffed tightly behind his back, with Chauvin’s left knee on his neck and another cop on his back, for 9 minutes 29 seconds. This fact is largely undisputed.6 But Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, is arguing that this use of force is legal under Minneapolis Police Department rules.

Ten police witnesses testified for the prosecution about this. MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo said once Floyd “stopped resisting and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that ... and was no longer responsive, and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that, that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy, it is not part of our training.”

This was backed up by other witnesses, including Sergeant Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert with the notoriously brutal Los Angeles Police Department: “He was in the prone position, he was handcuffed, he was not attempting to resist, he was not attempting to assault the officers—kick, punch or anything of that nature.”

Nelson pushed back by pointing out that MPD rules do allow cops to brutalize people like this for periods of time, and that all MPD rules allow “officers on the scene” to use their discretion as to how to apply the rules, depending on the situation. The prosecution’s witnesses mainly did not dispute this overall, but held to the position that in this case, it went on too long, and that after Floyd was unconscious it was no longer authorized.

Were police required to provide emergency medical aid once Floyd became nonresponsive?

All police are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and Chief Arradondo testified that “the defendant violated our policy in terms of rendering aid” in emergency situations. Nelson claimed that this requirement didn’t apply because the cops had called an ambulance, but other witnesses said the policy was clear that aid must be provided while waiting for the ambulance. (Paramedics reported Floyd was dead when they arrived.)

Nelson also argued that the “loud, excited” and “hostile” group of bystanders protesting Floyd’s murder prevented the cops from providing CPR. He got some support on this from the MPD officer who trains police in medical care; she said that such a crowd makes care “incredibly difficult.” But Sgt. Stiger pointed out what is obvious on the video—the so-called “hostile crowd” is actually a dozen “concerned” people—including four children and an older man—who did not threaten the cops. Likewise, the defense argument that the situation was so “chaotic” that the cops didn’t realize Floyd needed aid disintegrates in the face of the fact that the police themselves took Floyd’s pulse, found he didn’t have one, and continued to brutalize him.

Did George Floyd Die as a Result of Police Force?

This was addressed by several highly experienced medical professionals. World-renowned pulmonologist7 and critical care physician8 Dr. Martin Tobin walked the jury through the video, pointing out all the indicators that Floyd was being deprived of oxygen and how that killed him. Tobin pointed to Floyd struggling to free up his lungs from the suffocating pressure, fighting for air, gradually losing consciousness, and even the point at which he passed away. He refuted the cops’ claim that “If he can talk, he can breathe,” pointing out that people can talk until they are at the very brink of suffocation death.

The former chief of the Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, forensic pathologist9 Dr. Lindsey Thomas, testified along similar lines. And (like Tobin) she also point-by-point refuted defense arguments that Floyd had died of a pre-existing heart condition, or of a drug overdose. These experts pointed out that an overdose of opioids is a “peaceful” and rapid death—victims fall asleep, go into a coma and die.

Dr. William Smock, the surgeon and at-the-crime-scene doctor for the Louisville, Kentucky, police department, put it this way: “He’s breathing. He’s talking. He’s not snoring. He is saying, ‘Please, please get off of me. I want to breathe. I can’t breathe.’ That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is somebody begging to breathe.”

As Dr. Thomas said “There’s no evidence to suggest [George Floyd] would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement.”

The last witness was Dr. Andrew Baker, Chief Medical Examiner for Hennepin County, who performed the autopsy on Floyd. That autopsy labeled Floyd’s death a homicide (which in medical terms means “death at the hands of another”—i.e., the police.) And in a confusing way it did say that police “subdual, restraint, and neck compression” killed Floyd. But the report also raised drug use and other health issues as “contributing factors.” As a whole it did not make clear that police force caused Floyd’s death.10

When asked direct questions by the prosecutor, Baker did clarify this somewhat—reaffirming that Floyd’s death was a homicide, and saying straight up that neither heart disease nor drugs was “the direct cause” of his death, and that police force was the trigger to his death. But he also continued to fudge these questions whenever he could, saying things like “the law enforcement, subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions.” [emphasis added] His testimony left some openings that the defense is likely to exploit when they present their case next week.

Conclusion:

The week’s testimony presented a very strong argument for the fact that Chauvin’s actions were illegal and caused George Floyd’s death. But testimony from some of those witnesses (from those witnesses who are themselves part of the law enforcement apparatus), also provided openings for the defense to attack when it presents its case next week. And as noted earlier, the scales in cases of police murder are tilted very heavily towards the police.

 

4. Out of roughly 15,000 police killings since 2005, 121 cops have been charged with manslaughter or murder. Of these, 44 were convicted, often on lesser charges. (New York Times, September 24, 2020). [back]

5. SeeAdvantage Cops! in the Injustice System of these United States.” [back]

6. Chauvin’s attorney has tried to make hay out of the fact that at a few points, Chauvin’s knee moved from neck to shoulder for a few seconds, but this in practice is a trivial point. [back]

7. A doctor specializing in the lungs and respiratory system. [back]

8. An intensive care unit doctor. [back]

9. A forensic pathologist is a doctor who performs autopsies to determine the cause of death. [back]

10. Baker also noted that no drugs were found in Floyd’s stomach, undercutting a major defense argument that Floyd died as a result of swallowing a large quantity of drugs when confronted by the police. [back]

 


Day 5 in the Trial of Derek Chauvin (Friday, April 2)
MPD Homicide Lieutenant Testifies: “If your knee is on someone’s neck, that can kill them.”

The main prosecution witness on Friday was Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, the most senior officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, with 35 years on the force.

Zimmerman’s testimony was damning:

  • He described Chauvin’s violent restraint of George Floyd as “totally unnecessary ... pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt. And that’s what they would have to feel to use that type of force.”
  • He said that “Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way to, they’re cuffed, how can they really hurt you? That person is handcuffed, and the threat level is just not there.”
  • He pointed out that in the face of little or no threat from either Floyd or the bystanders, the cops were deploying the “highest tier” on the “force continuum” that all MPD cops are trained in on a yearly basis. “If your knee is on someone’s neck, that can kill them.”
  • He also said that “Once you handcuff a person you need to get them out of the prone position as quickly as possible, because it restricts their breathing.” Prone position means having someone face down, which puts pressure on their lungs. And on top of that, being handcuffed “stretches the muscles back through your chest and it makes it more difficult to breathe.” Zimmerman asserted that this is part of training and is well-known—meaning that Chauvin knew that what he was doing could kill Floyd.
  • Zimmerman also said that officers are “absolutely” trained to provide emergency medical assistance, even if an ambulance is on the way.

Coming on top of the testimony of Sergeant Pleoger (Chauvin’s supervisor) yesterday that Chauvin should have ended his knee-choke of Floyd when Floyd was not “offering any resistance,” Zimmerman went even further in driving home the fact that Chauvin was consciously employing deadly force in a way that was not justified by the situation and in violation of MPD training.

 


 

Day 4 in the Trial of Derek Chauvin (Thursday, April 1)
George Floyd, a human being full of life who died at the hands of the police

The witnesses on Thursday included George Floyd’s girlfriend, the two paramedics who attempted to resuscitate him after Derek Chauvin murdered him, and the MPD sergeant who was Chauvin’s supervisor.

  • Courteney Ross, 45, opened the day with moving testimony about her three-year relationship with George Floyd, painting a rich picture of Floyd as a human being, a sweet person full of love and full of life, in spite of being plagued with many problems. She started by telling “her favorite story” of meeting Floyd when she was at a low point in her life, while she was “fussing in a corner of the lobby” at the Salvation Army, and George coming up and offering her comfort. She talked about his love for his kids, for the outdoors and for sports, and how broken up he was when his mother died in 2018. And she bravely shared their struggle with opioid addiction, which for both of them had developed from using pills legally prescribed for chronic pain, and which they tried “many times” to shake.

    Each time Courteney started to talk about George, her face would light up with joy as if her words brought him back to life, joy which quickly turned to pain and tears as she confronted again the magnitude of her loss, and the loss to all who loved him.

    This testimony went up against the dehumanizing portrait painted by the Defense of George Floyd as a “dangerous drug addict.” Ross also made clear that in spite of his addiction and other health issues, George was very active physically, lifting weights, running, playing sports with neighborhood kids, which undercut the Defense argument that Floyd's death was caused by his own ill health and addiction, rather than by Chauvin’s nine-minute chokehold.
  • Paramedics Derek Smith and Seth Bravinder were both in the ambulance that arrived at the scene of George Floyd’s murder. Both noted that there were three cops on top of Floyd when they arrived. Bravinder saw as soon as he got there that Floyd was still in handcuffs even though “I didn’t see any breathing or movement.” Smith – working around Chauvin’s knee which was still on Floyd’s neck – searched for a pulse and couldn’t find one. “In lay terms, he was dead.”

    The paramedics first had to get Chauvin up off of Floyd, and then loaded him into an ambulance. They described a harrowing period of trying desperately to resuscitate George Floyd, but Floyd never again had a pulse. As Smith testified, “When I showed up he was deceased, and when I dropped him off at the hospital he was still in cardiac arrest.” Asked why they persisted so desperately with their resuscitation efforts, Smith said “He’s a human. I was trying to give him a second chance at life.”

Up to this point, the trial has focused on establishing the facts of what happened, and people have been given a vivid picture of the sustained violence the cops unleashed on George Floyd, and on his death during this encounter. But on Thursday attention began to turn to the legal issues that will ultimately determine whether Chauvin is found guilty by the jury.

The first of these issues is the question of whether the cops were legally justified in using the knee-to-neck restraint hold on Floyd for an extended period of time.* In this case, the Prosecution is not arguing against police violence in general because the law allows for a great deal of police violence. But it is saying that Chauvin’s actions were “excessive.

  • Sgt. David Pleoger (now retired) was the first witness to address this. Pleoger was the supervisor for Chauvin and the other three cops involved in Floyd’s murder. 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry called Pleoger during the incident because she was alarmed by livestream video of the arrest and felt compelled to alert Pleoger to an extraordinary situation. Pleoger went to the scene of the murder, and then to the hospital where Floyd was officially pronounced dead.

    In much of Pleoger's testimony he seemed reluctant to say anything that could counter Chauvin’s defense. Finally—over fierce objections from the Defense—the Prosecution was allowed to ask Pleoger directly when the use of force (i.e., the knee-on-neck) against Floyd should have ended, according to MPD policy. Pleoger said: “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers.” [Emphasis added.]

    Pleoger also confirmed that cops are required to provide emergency medical aid to people in their custody when necessary—which they did not do with George Floyd.

    Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, tried to turn things around. Cross-examining Pleoger, he “creatively” attempted to show that the small crowd of people demanding that the police not murder Floyd were the reason that the police did not give Floyd medical attention. As NPR reported, Nelson asked Pleoger "If during an arrest, a crowd of bystanders grows increasingly volatile ... should an officer focus on the arrest or the crowd?" Or, "if Pleoger were involved in a gun battle and a person was injured, would he deal with threat or perform CPR on the imaginary victim?"

    But, to be real, this was not the situation. Nelson's imaginary violent mob actually consisted of 12-14 unarmed people, (mostly) on the sidewalk, including three high school girls and a 9-year-old, a 61-year-old-man and a Minneapolis firefighter, none of whom were threatening or physically confronting the cops.

* Note: The fact that something may be legally justified in an oppressive society such as this one does not mean it is right, but it is the focus of the trial. [back]

 


Eyewitness Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old Black man from the neighborhood, watches pig videocam and breaks down on the stand.

Day 3 of the Trial:

Today’s testimony was a study in the contrast between the mind-numbing cruelty and indifference of the pigs who murdered George Floyd, and the humanity of George Floyd himself, as well as a wide array of people he encountered in the final hour of his life.

In store surveillance video from Cup Foods* that was entered as evidence on Wednesday, Floyd “chatted with a store clerk about playing football. He grabbed a banana off a shelf, flipped through a wad of cash, and hugged and exchanged pleasantries with a woman, laughing with his hand on her back.” [New York Times]

Christopher Martin, a 19-year-old Cup Foods employee, said that Floyd was “friendly” and “talkative.” Floyd asked to buy cigarettes, paying with a twenty-dollar bill that Martin immediately thought was counterfeit. But he also thought that Floyd was unaware that the bill was bad and so he (Martin) initially decided he would accept it, knowing that it would later be docked from his own pay. He said he felt like doing Floyd—a stranger—“a favor.”

Later Martin had second thoughts and reported the counterfeit bill to his supervisor, who insisted that Martin and another employee go out to Floyd’s car and ask him to come in and talk to the supervisor. Floyd and the two other people in his car declined to do that, and after a second attempt, the supervisor called the cops.

Now flash forward to the arrival of the pigs. In video taken by eyewitness Christopher Belfrey and even more damningly in the body cam video of the four MPD pigs who murdered Floyd that was entered in evidence, these videos reveal aggressive cruelty from the opening moments. Even though Floyd was only suspected of a misdemeanor and had not behaved in a threatening manner to anyone, two cops go up to his car, bang on the widow with nightsticks, and almost immediately pull a gun on him. Floyd, clearly terrified, pleads repeatedly “please don’t shoot me.” Cops handcuff him, even though they could have issued a citation. Then they violently force him into a patrol car even as he cries and pleads that he is claustrophobic. And then we see it all again, from the angle of the pigs themselves, the slow grinding out of Floyd’s life, the complete disregard for the pleas of bystanders to save him.

From the opening moments of arriving at the scene the cops demonstrated aggressive cruelty towards George Floyd.

Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old Black man from the neighborhood, saw Floyd being forced into the patrol car, and his initial reaction was to try to convince Floyd to go along. As he explained in court, he told Floyd that “you can’t win” – meaning the best hope for surviving the incident in one piece was to do whatever the cops said. McMillian persisted with this advice for a while. Even when the three cops were on top of Floyd, holding him down and choking him, McMillian testified that “I’m trying to tell him, just cooperate with them. Get up, get in the car. Go where you can win.”

But soon it became clear that this strategy would not work. "Even I said to the officer, I said, 'man, he said he can't breathe.' They said, 'if he keep talking, well, he can breathe,'" They kept on with their torture. McMillian said that "When the paramedics arrived for Mr. Floyd, I knew then in my mind and in my instinct, it was over for Mr. Floyd. That he was dead,"

Watching the video in court, at the point where Floyd was calling out for his mama, McMillian broke down, sobbing uncontrollably, saying “I couldn’t help but feel helpless. I don’t have a mama either, but I understand him.”

Shortly after the murder, McMillian saw Chauvin as he was getting in his patrol car to leave. Referencing an earlier encounter, he said “‘Five days ago, I told you the other day to go home to your family safe and let the next person go home to their family safe. But today I gotta look at you as a maggot.’”

 

* A busy “groceries plus” store on the corner where Floyd was murdered. [back]


 

March 31, 2021
Testimony of Minneapolis Fire Fighter Reveals Pigs’
Depraved Indifference to the Life of George Floyd

Genevieve Hansen, 27, is a white fire-fighter with extensive training as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). Hansen indicated that she has been a first responder on at least 100 medical emergencies .She testified on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Out for a walk on May 25, trying to chill out after her 48-hour shift, Hansen saw flashing lights and went to the scene where George Floyd was being brutalized. She quickly assessed “that [Floyd] was in an altered state of consciousness. What I needed to know was if he had a pulse." She identified herself to the cops as a Minneapolis fire-fighter, asking if they had taken his pulse, and then urged, insisted and pleaded with them that they do so.

Hansen saw Floyd’s condition deteriorating. "He wasn't moving, and he was cuffed. And three grown men putting all of their weight on somebody is too much." She offered to provide treatment, or to walk the cops through treatment. In return Chauvin threatened to Mace her, and she was belittled by Officer Thao, who she recalled "said something along the lines of, 'If you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved.'"

Hansen said that she became “totally distressed” realizing that the cops would not allow Floyd to receive medical treatment. And she was outraged by Thao’s comment: “I got there and I could have given medical assistance. That's exactly what I should have done." Finally an ambulance arrived, but Floyd was apparently already dead. Hansen called 911 to report that she had just seen a man murdered.*

Derek Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, tried to shake, provoke or discredit Hansen. But she stood up with great courage against this and came back with both reason and defiance. Regarding Nelson’s contention that she should have waited quietly for the ambulance, Hansen said “There was a man being killed. I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right.” When Nelson tried to denigrate her for being angry and upset at the scene, she shot back defiantly: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.”

 

* Hansen also testified that after the ambulance left she remained on the scene for a while out of fear that the remaining cops might attack other Black men who had been in the crowd protesting Floyd’s murder. [back]

 


March 31, 2021
Trial Opens with Devastating Portrayals of Cold-Blooded Murder

Since opening arguments in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin finished on Monday, the jury—and the world—has heard from eight witnesses. While they are very different from each other—ranging from a Minneapolis fire-fighter to an MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter to a nine-year-old girl—they tell an incredibly consistent and horrifying story of three pigs choking the life out of George Floyd for over nine minutes while a fourth pig held back a small crowd of distraught and angry people who demanded that they stop.

Almost every witness was in tears at one point or another as they relived the trauma of that day.

Here are brief reports on some of the witnesses:

  • Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher who sent the cops to the scene where Floyd was murdered. She watched the live stream of the cops from her workstation and said that they were sitting on Floyd’s motionless body for so long that she thought the screen must be frozen. When she found out it wasn’t, she became alarmed and called the cops’ supervising sergeant to get him involved, saying “You can call me a snitch if you want to…”.

Jena Scurry testifies at Derek Chauvin trial.

  • Alisha Oyler, a 23-year-old white woman working at a gas station across the street, who left work to film what was happening, “Because I always see the police messing with people and it’s wrong, it’s not right.”
  • Donald Williams, a 33-year-old Black MMA fighter and security professional, was coming back from a fishing trip with his son. Based on his martial arts training he quickly assessed that not only did Chauvin have Floyd in a “blood choke” (a choke that cuts off the flow of blood—and therefore oxygen—to the brain through pressure on the neck) but also that Chauvin kept ratcheting up the choke through a method called “shimmying” that increases the pressure on the carotid artery. Williams also observed the stages of Floyd’s passage from extreme distress to losing consciousness to death, which Williams called “torture.” "You could see that he was going through tremendous pain …You could see his eyes slowly rolling back in his head...”

Donald Williams testifies at Chauvin trial.

  • Darnella Frazier, the then-17-year-old Black girl who courageously shot the video that told the whole world of this murder. She was at Cup Foods with her 9-year-old cousin (who also testified) buying her treats. Seeing what was happening Darnella hustled her cousin into the store so she wouldn’t see it and then went herself to film it. Frazier described Floyd as "scared," "terrified," "begging for his life." "It wasn't right. He was suffering. He was in pain. I knew it was wrong. We all knew it was wrong."
  • Alyssa Funari, an 18-year-old white girl and classmate of Darnella’s was there with a younger friend (who also testified). She told the Court: "'He looked like he was fighting to breathe. I slowly knew that if he were to be held down much longer, he wouldn’t live." Then, in tears, she said she felt she was failing because she wanted to intervene but was unable to because "there was a higher power there"–meaning the cop “controlling the scene.” "There was nothing I could do as a bystander there. I couldn't do physically what I wanted to do." (USA Today)
  • Genevieve Hansen, 27, a white fire-fighter trying to chill on her day off. She came upon the scene and immediately saw that Floyd’s life was in danger, identified herself to the cops and asked, urged, begged and pleaded with them to take Floyd’s pulse, to get off of him, to let her provide medical treatment… for which she was taunted, insulted and threatened with Mace. She spoke to what she saw, as a Firefighter and EMT, and saw George Floyd was dying in front of her. The Defense was not able to get her to back down from her account. In the days ahead, we will be posting a more in-depth report on her testimony.

Genevieve Hansen testifies at Derek Chauvin's trial.

In the face of all this, Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, tried to flip the world on its head and imply that this small crowd of bystanders pleading for Floyd’s life somehow caused Chauvin to murder Floyd. In this twisted view, people trying to save the life of a fellow human being are “angry” and “dangerous,” while murdering cops are good people just doing their job. Cross-examining Hansen, Nelson had the nerve to compare the people defending Floyd with a “hypothetical” crowd of people trying to stop fire-fighters from putting out a fire. These pigs are saying that just as people shouldn’t interfere with firefighters doing their job (putting out fires), no one should interfere with the cops doing their “job”—oppressing, beating down and even murdering the people!

What’s It All About?

Despite the terms of the legal trial and courthouse confined to just being about what happened on May 25, 2020, the larger context and what emerges through the testimony is that the murder of George Floyd was not an “aberration” but a concentration of the role of the police and the treatment of Black people. Quite a few witnesses (Black and white) spoke to this in one way or another, but none more powerfully than Darnella Frazier, who closed her testimony with these words:

When I look at George Floyd, ... I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them.…

It's been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it's like — it's not what I should have done, it's what he [Chauvin] should have done.

 

Darnella Frazier testifies at Derek Chauvin trial.

And it’s about what we do. As we posed: will all those who were part of the Beautiful Rising—in the face of police repression and vigilante violence—and all those who care about the police brutality and murder of Black and Brown people, stay vigilant? Will they have their voices heard during this trial, in diverse, creative and bold ways, from the pulpits and from the stage, on media and in the streets?

 


March 30, 2021

Minneapolis on Edge as Trial of Pig Chauvin Starts—People Demand “Justice for George Floyd!”

Minneapolis remains on edge. After the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, tens of thousands took to the streets across the country and the world. Now, on the eve of opening arguments in the trial of the pig, Derek Chauvin who murdered George Floyd, people took up different actions—to honor the life of George Floyd, demand justice, and call attention to this important case.

Family members of other Black men killed by cops attended a prayer service, including Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner who was killed in NY with a pig’s chokehold in 2014; and the family of Daniel Prude who was murdered by the Rochester, NY cops putting pressure on his head and body—just three months before George Floyd was killed. George Floyd’s brother Terrence talked about the emotional experience of seeing cops who have killed Black men, going free—like the pig murderers of Sean Bell in Queens, NY, where Terrence lived at the time. “To see no justice in that situation, it made me furious, he said, “We need justice, we need it now!” Another brother of George Floyd, Philonise, said, “He [Chauvin] killed my brother in broad daylight, it was a modern day lynching.”

Dozens of local organizations also rallied at the Minneapolis Government Center on Sunday. Chauntyll Allen of Black Lives Matter Twin Cities said, “We want to give folks a space to come together and talk about what we’ve been experiencing through the jury selection process. And we want to let the system know... We are not sleeping. We’re paying attention and we’re here until the end.” A march downtown temporarily forced light rail service to stop when protesters blocked the tracks at two stations. People then rallied at the Hennepin County Government Center (where the Chauvin trial is taking place), chanting and shouting at the Minnesota National Guard troops stationed inside.

On Monday morning, before the trial started, the Floyd family, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, Reverend Al Sharpton and others took a knee outside the courthouse for eight minutes and 46 seconds—to mark the time Chauvin pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing him. At a news conference just before this, Ben Crump talked about what he thinks this trial means for the Floyd family and the country, saying, “George Floyd galvanized cities all across America and all across the world when that video, that video of torture was viewed millions and millions of times.” He said now, “The whole world is watching.”

On Monday morning, before the trial started, the Floyd family, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, Reverend Al Sharpton and others took a knee outside the courthouse for eight minutes and 46 seconds—to mark the time Chauvin pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing him.

 

On Monday morning, before the trial started, the Floyd family, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, Reverend Al Sharpton and others took a knee outside the courthouse for eight minutes and 46 seconds—to mark the time Chauvin pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing him.    Photo: AP

Monday evening, after the close of the first day of the trial, there was another protest in downtown Minneapolis, organized by over 20 groups. People marched behind a banner that read, “Justice for George Floyd and all stolen lives.” People are calling for the conviction of Derek Chauvin with the maximum penalties.

The city is saying it will respect people’s right to protest. Meanwhile, officials are putting in place means to repress the people. There is fencing and concrete barriers around the County Government Center, Minnesota National Guard are stationed outside the courthouse, and nearby businesses have been boarded up. Police have said they are planning on increasing their presence with the beginning of the trial.

People in Minneapolis and around the country and the world have their eyes on this trial and are demanding, “Justice for George Floyd!” Stay tuned at revcom.us for coverage of the trial and protests.

 


March 22, 2021

The Need to Stay Vigilant
Recent Developments in the Trial of Pig Chauvin for the Murder of George Floyd

Editors’ Note: This article captures recent developments shaping the legal terrain in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the brutal murder of George Floyd. For all those who participated in the Beautiful Rising last summer, and for all those horrified by the oppression of Black people and the epidemic of police brutality and murder, it is important to follow the trial and stay vigilant. Justice for George Floyd matters! And is far from guaranteed, despite the uprising or the promises and anxiousness (real or pretended) of liberal politicians.

Introduction

First, let’s remember the original incident:

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis cops approached George Floyd in his car on suspicion of using a counterfeit 20-dollar bill to buy cigarettes. Almost immediately one cop pointed a gun at Floyd. Cops screamed contradictory orders at Floyd as he begged them not to shoot him. Within minutes, Floyd was handcuffed and forced face down on the ground, three cops on top of him, including Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on Floyd’s neck in a hold that restricts blood flow to the brain. Chauvin kept it there for five minutes as Floyd pleaded for his life, crying “I can’t breathe,” and then for another four minutes after Floyd was unresponsive, and even after another cop was unable to find a pulse.

If you saw this, you might conclude that a Black man who posed no threat to others or himself had his life stolen for no good reason. And you would be right. And you might conclude that the cops who did this must be held fully accountable, not only because of the injustice done to George Floyd and his loved ones, but also because of the chilling message that it would send to pigs everywhere if they faced no serious consequences. And you would be right again.

And you might conclude that even in the United States, with its sickening record of allowing killer cops to walk free again and again, that in this case, with a crime is so brutal, facts so plain, and all caught on video that drew millions into the streets in protest... that this time the cops will be convicted of murder and given lengthy jail terms.

But this is by no means certain.

Selecting—and “Shaping”—a Jury

The pretrial stage of the trial of Derek Chauvin is drawing to a close. It seems likely jury selection will be completed early this week. In addition, on March 19 presiding Judge Cahill ruled on a number of pending pretrial motions. So, barring the unexpected, the actual trial (presentation of witnesses and evidence) will begin on March 29.

The jury so far is reasonably diverse in terms of age, gender and race. There are five men and eight women. Eight are under 50 years old, four are in their 50s and one in her 60s. Four are Black; two are mixed race, seven are white. And generally they come across as well-meaning and decent people, including many who say that racism and discrimination are real problems in the U.S. and that police sometimes treat people of color unfairly.

But through the process of jury selection, two things have been going on.

First, some potential jurors have been “weeded out.” For instance, the judge has dismissed people who said they had intense emotional reactions to the video of Floyd’s murder. The defense seems to be dismissing people who have had personal experience with how police treat Black and Brown people. On the other hand, a number of jurors have been seated who have cops as close relatives, and/or have strong feelings that “the police keep us safe.” In other words, the jury seems to be made up mainly of people who appear to buy into the system’s narrative that police are good people doing a tough and dangerous job, but “they are only human” and may make mistakes in the heat of the moment.

Second, the judge and defense keep hammering at—and getting jurors to verbally commit to—the idea that they are “finders of fact” and not of law, and that they must be ready to vote to acquit on the basis of the law as the judge instructs them on it, and not their emotions. This may sound good on the surface, but the problem is that the law in the U.S. (as explained in our March 15 “Advantage Cops...” article) is designed to give very wide latitude to cops to violently oppress people in the service of their role as enforcers of the unjust order of capitalism-imperialism.

For instance, Chauvin used an extremely dangerous knee-to-neck restraint that is legal for Minneapolis police to use under some circumstances. So you can already envision the defense argument that Chauvin was using a legal restraint in a “difficult” situation. And then the jurors are boxed in to arguing about whether Chauvin exercised good or bad judgment in using it and for how long ... which leaves a lot of room for any juror inclined to sympathize with police to argue “well, it was a tough call, and maybe he should have stopped sooner, but we weren’t there ...” Or in other words, “don’t believe your lying eyes; it wasn’t murder, it was a ‘mistake.’”

Cahill’s Rulings on Pretrial Motions

On March 19, Judge Cahill ruled on several pretrial motions. First was a defense motion to admit as evidence reports and video from an incident on May 6, 2019 in which Minneapolis cops had pulled over Floyd on suspicion of drug activity. In that incident too, the cops quickly and for no valid reason pulled guns on Floyd, dragged him out of the car, and restrained him, while Floyd begged for his life and said he couldn’t breathe. The defense argument for introducing this incident was so slippery and convoluted it is impossible to sum up, but the prosecution correctly characterized it as “a desperate attempt” to “smear Mr. Floyd’s character.”

Nonetheless, Judge Cahill ruled to allow some of this into evidence. Cahill said that as a result of this incident—in which the cops allege that Floyd swallowed drugs when confronted by the police—his blood pressure shot up to a dangerously high level, and a medic said that he could die without treatment. So, Cahill ruled, this was relevant to one of the defense’s main potential arguments about the 2020 killing. As reported in the news, the defense may argue that Floyd died of heart failure due to a drug overdose suffered when he swallowed drugs to avoid arrest—one of the earlier rationalizations floated by the pigs for George Floyd’s death.

This ruling was unjust on two levels. First of all, in January Cahill ruled that most of Chauvin’s record of at least 15 civilian complaints, and his involvement in three shootings, one of which was fatal, could not be admitted at trial2. These records are closed, but if they do establish a pattern of brutality, that would obviously be relevant to the trial.

Secondly, and even worse, by declaring that Floyd’s high blood pressure in 2019 is relevant to his death in 2020, Cahill is essentially validating the defense’s ludicrous contention that Floyd died of a drug overdose. For one thing, there is no evidence that Floyd’s high blood pressure in 2019 was caused by drugs—it could just as well have been caused by being brutalized and terrorized at gunpoint by pigs. And there is even less evidence that Floyd’s death in 2020 was caused by drugs. (See Court TV interview with renowned pathologist Cyril Wecht.3) This is once again setting up a situation where the jurors are being fed “reasonable doubt” that has no basis in reality.

At the same time, Cahill ruled against the defense’s very insistent motions for the trial to be moved out of Minneapolis and/or postponed, because pretrial publicity (videos of the murder, protests, and the recent agreement by the City of Minneapolis’ to pay Floyd’s family 27 million dollars to settle their federal civil rights lawsuit) made it impossible to seat an impartial jury. Cahill has consistently stated that there is no place they could move the trial and no amount of delay that would substantially eliminate the problem of pretrial publicity in such a high-profile case. But that it could be—and is being—dealt with through a rigorous jury selection process.

It is important to keep in mind that while the prosecution, judge, and in this instance, the defense, are all—ultimatelyrepresentatives of the same system, a system that depends on the police and all their brutality to enforce its rule, there are contradictions within all this, and a lot will depend on the evidence, the arguments and back-and-forth of the actual trial, and how well they are fought for—all in the context of the larger and changing political climate. The outcome of the trial is not determined. The Beautiful Rising, the struggle of broad numbers of people who went into the streets to demand justice, did shake this system. Now, as this trial proceeds and there is potentially further exposure of the nature and workings of this system, what is at stake is not only whether Chauvin is convicted and goes to prison, but the larger struggle to end this oppression once and for all through an actual revolution. This poses two challenges:

First, will all those who were part of the Beautiful Rising—in the face of police repression and vigilante violence—and all those who care about the police brutality and murder of Black and Brown people, stay vigilant and have their voices heard during this trial, in diverse, creative and bold ways, from the pulpits and from the stage, on media and in the streets?

Second, will those same masses be challenged to grapple with the revolutionary analysis of Bob Avakian (See Bob Avakian For The Liberation of Black People And The Emancipation Of All Humanity) as to why this deeply-rooted, centuries-old, horrific oppression cannot be ended under this system, no matter how hard people protest and struggle, unless and until that fight is transformed into one that becomes part of building for an actual revolution to overthrow this system, and that CAN actually END this oppression?


2. Cahill is admitting evidence from two incidents that show Chauvin was aware the knee-to-neck hold could be fatal. [back]

3. Wecht points out that while Floyd had a dangerous amount of drugs in his stomach, drugs must be absorbed into the bloodstream before they can cause an overdose. To this we will add that even if Chauvin’s claim were true, and Floyd lost consciousness because of drugs, and not because Chauvin had been choking him for five minutes, Chauvin continued to choke him for another four minutes while he was unconscious. That’s still murder! [back]

 


March 15, 2021

As Chauvin goes to trial for the murder of George Floyd:
Advantage Cops! in the Injustice System of these United States

Last spring, millions of people rose up in protest against the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black and Brown men and women brutalized or killed by this system’s pigs. In the vast majority of these police murders, the cops are not even charged, and in the handful of cases in which they are, most of these pigs are given a slap on the wrist or let go entirely.1

Even the very laws are set up to advantage killer cops. Some examples:

Jury selection in this trial involved prospective jurors filling out a long questionnaire about their views on a wide range of issues related to the case, and then going through “voir dire”—a process in which the judge and the attorneys for the defense and for the prosecution question prospective jurors to make sure the jury is “fair and unbiased.”

Jurors—particularly people of color—have been repeatedly disqualified for things like having “an intense emotional reaction” to the video of Floyd’s death. But think about it—who wouldn’t have an intense emotional reaction to seeing a defenseless man brutally killed? Hardcore racists? People who have no sense of human empathy at all? That is not a “fair and impartial” juror, that is a juror primed to acquit the defendant.

Another example is that jurors are asked (on the questionnaire) to respond to the following statement: “Because law enforcement officers have such dangerous jobs, it is not right to second guess decisions they make while on duty.”

The problem here is that this statement is not some random opinion—it is a key doctrine of U.S. law when dealing with charges of police misconduct. This statement is drawn from a ruling by the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989 in Graham v. Connor, as follows:

The “reasonableness” of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

And the ruling goes on:

With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge’s chambers ... violates the Fourth Amendment. The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation. [All emphasis added]

The meaning of this doctrine is that jurors are instructed by the judge when they go to deliberations to give very wide latitude to police violence. So even if the video, the bystanders, and experts all show that George Floyd was unarmed, not aggressive, not a danger to himself or others, and that there was no good reason to subject him to violent restraints, much less to kill him... jurors are supposed to imagine themselves as cops dealing with a “dangerous” situation and making a “split second decision.”

The effect of this doctrine is that even in the rare cases where cops are charged and prosecuted, it is very difficult to get a conviction, in spite of all the evidence.

The police play a crucial role and must not be discouraged or punished for exercising extreme violence in the service of that role. As BA puts it:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, 1:24

 


1. Out of roughly 15,000 police killings since 2005, 121 cops have been charged with manslaughter or murder. Of these, 44 were convicted, often on lesser charges. (New York Times, September 24, 2020).  [back]

 


 

March 9, 2021

People Take to the Streets, Demanding Conviction of Killer Cop, Justice for George Floyd

May 25, 2020: People watched in horror as a Minneapolis pig, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while other cops joined in this modern-day lynching or kept bystanders away. People screamed in horror as George Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe.” Millions would see the view of this cold-blooded murder. For weeks people all over the country and the world took to the streets in sustained protest. The trial of pig Chauvin has now begun, on March 8. People are taking to the streets once again. And the powers that be have geared up to come down with repression. Barricades and barbed wire have been put up around the Hennepin County Government Center and Minneapolis City Hall. And other measures are being taken to protect other buildings like Chauvin’s pig precinct. Security measures will also be going up around other city infrastructure, such as the police precinct buildings. The Minnesota National Guard has been called in to stand by.


Sunday, March 7. Many hundreds gathered in Minneapolis, demanding justice for George Floyd. People carried a white coffin as the protest marched in silence through downtown. They held photos of George Floyd and flowers. There was a scroll of the names of more than 470 people who have been killed by Minnesota cops, including other murders that Chauvin was involved in. There was a banner with George Floyd’s last words: “I can’t breathe.” The music of Bob Marley, Prince, and Sam Cooke filled the streets. When the march got to the Hennepin County Government Center plaza, where the trial was set to begin, people put down the coffin and placed flowers around it.

About 150 people, including many family members of people killed by the police, marched and rallied in St. Paul, at the house of Minnesota governor Tim Walz. Organizers of the protest, from Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, are pushing for the reopening and investigations of other cases of people murdered by the police.

In Boston, people rallied for George Floyd and also to demand justice for people murdered by pigs in the Boston area. Some 200-300 gathered for a second rally in the afternoon outside Boston City Hall. People demanded that Chauvin be convicted of second-degree murder, but many said they believe the jury will end up acquitting him and that is why people have to keep protesting.


Monday, March 8. Hundreds gathered again at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis as the trial began—demanding the conviction of Chauvin. People chanted, “Say his name, George Floyd,” “The whole world is watching,” “No more killer cops!” and “Ain’t no power like the power of the people!”

As night fell in Seattle, members of the Seattle Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression gathered in Westlake Park. They were demanding justice for George Floyd, but many don’t think this will be delivered at Chauvin’s trial. A speaker at the rally said, “We see these murders in the streets and we see officers get off, and we’re not holding our breath for a guilty verdict.”

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, protesters who gathered downtown clashed with police who said the sound equipment was too loud and people were blocking traffic. As people were arrested, others chanted, “Let them go.” Eight people were charged with obstructing traffic, causing a public disturbance, and refusing the command of a police officer.

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