As the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues, the nation watches as witnesses testify in court about the murder of George Floyd last May.
Opening arguments began last Monday (March 29) in the trial of Chauvin who faces multiple charges stemming from the more than nine minutes he knelt on Floyd’s neck and his subsequent death. Floyd’s death sparked national and global outrage and heightened calls for racial justice and against police brutality.
“When we consider this trial, we must recognize that our criminal justice system is actually on trial,” Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP told CBS. “The right to breathe as a Black man is on trial,” he added.
Johnson’s sentiments echo those of Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd who said before proceedings began last week that Chauvin’s trial was “a chance” for the criminal justice system to earn people’s trust.
The trial entered its sixth day of proceedings on Monday (April 5) and so far more than a dozen witnesses have been called to testify. Chauvin’s defense attorneys have attempted to build a case that paints onlookers and bystanders as distractions that made the former officer continue to kneel into George Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes.
“That’s called racism. When you automatically assume the most negative characteristic about an individual or a community based on their physical features, that’s called racism,” Johnson said.
Chauvin’s defense has continuously highlighted Floyd’s use of drugs during the trial, though police officials testified that Chauvin’s use of force was “totally unnecessary.” Officers approached Floyd after a convenience store manager accused him of using a counterfeit $20 bill.
“We afford all citizens due process. We should always have a system to adjudicate injuries and harms, and to ensure that we have a justice system that is both transparent and accountable,” Johnson said. “That’s something that George Floyd was not afforded. That’s why this whole scenario is so appalling.”
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