Protesters outside the Minneapolis court house where former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd today were acutely aware of the significance of the case and well as the precariousness of the outcome.
Jason Brown, 40, a vice president of a tech company and the president of Minnesota’s Arc of Justice advocacy group, who is Black, told the Guardian: “I wish for once America would stand up for us. … If [Chauvin] meant to do this or if he didn’t mean to, it happened.”
Brown is concerned that the jury, which is majority white, may not convict.
“The jury? I don’t think a Black man could get fair justice in America anywhere,” he said.
People are braced for the defense to try to tear down Floyd’s character and conduct on the day.
“[Floyd is] a Black man who’s not really on trial – but he is on trial. He died, but he’s on trial,” Brown said.
The city has emphasized that peaceful protest is encouraged, despite the heavily-protected court building and the deployment of National Guard troops.
But there is no doubt that if Chauvin is acquitted or even if convicted on the least serious charge, manslaughter, resulting protests could escalate and spin out of control.
“If they don’t get it right, we will get it right. The younger generations don’t have patience for nonsense,” Brown said.
Another protester, who identified only by her artistic moniker of Aesthetic Ash, said she left her home in California last May and has been participating in protests across the country since.
“I’m here to make sure the community knows that people genuinely care about George Floyd, they care about Breonna Taylor and they care about all the whose lives have been stolen too early,” she said.
Minnesota has only one previous recorded murder conviction of a police officer in the course of his duty – an officer of color.