Several hundred people supporting the conviction of former Officer Derek Chauvin on murder charges gathered across the Mississippi River on Saturday in front of the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, chanting, “Prosecute the police!”
More protests were planned Sunday and Monday outside the courthouse where the case will be heard in downtown Minneapolis, now lined with protective concrete barriers and razor wire. The criminal prosecution of Chauvin, due to be broadcast live on Court TV, is likely to be among the most closely watched in U.S. history.
Floyd, 46, died at the hands of police responding to a 911 call by a convenience store clerk last May over a $20 bill the clerk suspected was fake. Floyd’s death was captured on video by a bystander and sparked months of protests against police brutality in Minneapolis and across the country.
The court proceedings are due to begin Monday, but could be delayed after an appellate court ruling Friday on the murder charges brought against Chauvin, 44, who served 19 years on the police force and now faces up to four decades in prison.
City officials have prepared for the trial with stepped-up security and community outreach intended to prevent a repeat of last year’s unrest, in which police responded forcefully to protest marches. Police enforced a curfew and injured protesters and reporters. Destruction ensued, with an estimated 1,500 buildings damaged or destroyed. The mayhem sparked calls for restructuring or defunding local police forces in major cities across the nation.
Last week, the city’s mayor, police chief and City Council held briefings outlining the public safety response they’ve been developing since last summer, modeled on security provided for the NCAA tournament in 2019, Super Bowl in 2018 and following the 1992 trial of the Los Angeles police officers who beat motorist Rodney King.
Later this month, when lawyers are expected to make opening statements, at least 2,000 National Guard troops will be deployed in the city, with two-thirds devoted to protecting property, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said. Police from surrounding cities and state and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, will also be posted, and the city has paired police with firefighters to rapidly respond if riots erupt.
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