Nearly a year ago, the nation experienced a protest movement like few seen in American history. After decades of state-sanctioned violence against Black citizens, the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd tipped a nation and forced thousands into the streets. This week, jury selection will kick off in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer responsible for pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Chauvin is set to stand trial for second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The former police officer is one of four officers set to stand trial for their actions on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Keung, face charges for aiding and abetting the crimes that Chauvin has been charged with. The four officers captured in the infamous video have pleaded not guilty.
Jury selection will continue throughout the week in Hennepin County. Opening arguments are set to begin on March 29 and the proceedings are expected to run for two to four weeks.
In preparation for the trial, city officials have funded the construction of wired fences, concrete barricades and increased security details around the courthouse. For local residents, the funding of these security efforts has been upsetting.
"As the people of Minneapolis and Minnesota are calling for justice and healing, and care, state officials have been responding in some ways by basically preparing to go to war with folks," Kandace Montgomery of the Black Visions Collective told ABC.
"So, I do think it’s meant to be an intimidation tactic."
Inside the courthouse, Judge Peter Cahill has also made efforts to increase security measures. The judge recently ruled that only one member of Floyd's family may sit inside the courthouse at a time. The ruling also applies to Chauvin's family. Furthermore, Cahill also ruled that face masks with phrases like "Black Lives Matter" and "Defund The Police" may not be worn inside the courtroom.
"While they understand the judge's reasons to limit attendance in the courtroom, the family is understandably disappointed by this ruling. The family is looking forward to the start of the trial as a critical milestone on the path to justice and a step toward closure in this dark chapter of their lives," attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci wrote in a joint statement.
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