The murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last May, is set to begin at the end of March, with jury selection starting on March 8 in Minneapolis, and the city is going to extreme measures to curtail protests and unrest.
According to the Star Tribune, construction crews are putting up barbed wire fencing, non-scalable fences and concrete barriers around the Minneapolis courthouse, city hall. and Hennepin County Jail. The blockade has been designed in anticipation of protests and possible anger around the trial.
The courtroom where Chauvin will be tried for second degree murder and second degree manslaughter has also gotten a makeover. Plexiglass, hand sanitizer and other precautions have been added to ensure the trial can go on despite COVID-19:
Additionally, the Minneapolis city council hatched a plan to hire six social media "influencers" to spread city-approved messaging about the proceedings. "The goal is to increase access to information to communities that do not typically follow mainstream news sources or City communications channels and/or who do not consume information in English," the city council said in a statement. However, backlash against the plan was swift, with many pointing out that the influencers would be on city payroll and their posts would have to be approved by the council.
According to the Washington Post, the plan was scrapped on Monday (March 1). “For this strategy, we use the term social media influencer which in retrospect did not accurately reflect what we are asking of our partners, and it caused confusion in the community,” David Rubedor, director of the Neighborhood and Community Relationship Department for the city, said during Monday’s city council meeting.
Last year, Chauvin was identified as the officer who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd uttered his last words, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s death, along with the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black men, women and children sparked massive civil rights demonstrations across the world last summer.
Jury selection for Chauvin’s trial is scheduled to begin on March 8, and opening arguments are expected by the end of March. Chauvin’s trial also marks the first time in Minnesota history that a White police officer faces criminal charges in the killing of a Black civilian.
(Photo by ANTHONY SOUFFLE via Star Tribune/Getty Images)