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Floyd family, supporters kneel in protest ahead of Minneapolis trial

Floyd family lawyer Attorney Ben Crump (left) and Rev. Al Sharpton, the founder and president of National Action Network (centre) and George Floyd’s brother kneel outside the Hennepin County Government Centre, in Minneapolis, on March 29, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Relatives and lawyers for the family of George Floyd knelt in protest on Monday outside the courthouse where the trial is being held for the white police officer accused of killing the 46-year-old Black man.

They took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

Also read: George Floyd killing | Minneapolis to pay $27 million to settle lawsuit

The protest came shortly before the start of opening arguments in Chauvin’s murder and manslaughter trial.

Opening statements begins

The George Floyd murder trial is a referendum on American justice, the family lawyer said ahead of opening statements in the case against the white police officer accused of killing the 46-year-old Black man.

Also read: George Floyd death | Four Minneapolis police officers face charges

“The whole world is watching,” said Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer and attorney for the Floyd family.

“Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all,” Crump said outside the Minneapolis courtroom where the trial is to take place.

Crump and members of the Floyd family then took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

Floyd’s May 25, 2020 death sparked protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and around the world.

Also read: Ex-officer charged in George Floyd’s death freed on $1 million bond

Chauvin, 44, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, faces murder and manslaughter charges for his role in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin, who was fired from the police along with three other officers, could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

Floyd’s cause of death is expected to be the central issue in the case, and a key piece of evidence is likely to be the bystander-filmed video that went viral.

Also read: George Floyd death | Jury selection begins in trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin

Crump said Chauvin’s defence attorney is “going to try to assassinate the character of George Floyd.”

“But this is the trial of Derek Chauvin, Let’s look at his record,” he said. “The facts are simple. What killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force.”

Floyd died while Chauvin was arresting him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

While lying with his face in the street, the handcuffed Floyd complained that he cannot breathe and calls out for his mother.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, is expected to argue that the officer was following police procedure and claim that Floyd’s death was due to an overdose of the drug fentanyl and underlying health conditions.

Chauvin’s trial is being held in a heavily guarded Minneapolis courtroom. Proceedings are expected to last about a month.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 11:44:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/floyd-family-supporters-kneel-in-protest-ahead-of-minneapolis-trial/article34191381.ece

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