Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Chauvin Trial May Test Biden Admin’s Ability to Contain Riots as Activists Grow Restless

'Look what they did to our beautiful downtown. They turned this into a war zone...'

(Headline USA) Hundreds of people gathered Monday outside the fortified courthouse for the first day of the trial of a former police officer charged in George Floyd‘s death, with chants of “No justice, no peace!” and speakers imploring the jurors to “do the right thing.”

In the wake of the Jan. 6 demonstrations at the US Capitol, largely driven by pro-Trump conservatives, Democrats condemned violence and supported brutal crackdowns by accusing those who disrupted the democratic process of committing sedition.

But now, after months of having excused violence by Black Lives Matters and Antifa, they could face a major test over how genuine their resolve is to contain violence.

And it could be one of the first big tests of the Biden administration, already facing heat for a growing border crisis and escalating military action abroad in Syria.

Many feared that an acquittal could lead to a fresh outbreak of violence, much as was the case with several high-profile race-related trials during the Obama administration.

Many in the crowd carried banners, some reading “Justice for George Floyd” and “Convict Killer Cops.”

As the judge and attorneys convened high above in an 18th-floor courtroom—with jury selection almost immediately stalling over the state’s effort to add a third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin—organizer DJ Hooker lamented the concrete barriers, chain-link fencing, barbed wire and razor wire that has gone up around the courthouse, along with National Guard troops and police standing guard behind.

“We ain’t in that cage over there. What do they call it, the First Amendment zone? The Freedom Zone, I call it a cage,” said Hooker, an organizer with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, which was formed after the 2015 death of Jamar Clark in a confrontation with Minneapolis police. “Look what they did to our beautiful downtown. They turned this into a war zone.”

Later, he ridiculed talk of the Chauvin trial as “the trial of the century,” noting the widely seen citizen video of Floyd’s arrest and saying all the jury needs to do is “do the right thing.”

Then he led the crowd in chants of “The whole world is watching!”

The protesters later marched around downtown. The protest featured several speakers that ranged from activists of various organizing groups to the parents of black men killed by police.

Sam Martinez, an organizer with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, said organizers plan similar protests for dates that coincide with significant points in Chauvin’s trial, including opening statements, closing arguments and the verdict.

Martinez said the biggest turnout likely will be on the day of the verdict.

“When the people know that there needs to be justice, they’ll come out,” Martinez said. “We trust in the people, we know they’ll back us up.”

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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