Outside Chauvin trial, protest, media and pleas for peace

Outside Chauvin trial, protest, media and pleas for peace

With her back to the Hennepin County Government Center where her brother’s accused killer may soon stand trial, Bridgett Floyd on Monday thanked protestors for keeping pressure on court proceedings, discouraged violence and recounted with emotion the experience of appearing in the courtroom opposite former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.

“I sat in the courtroom today and looked at the officer who took my brother’s life,” said Bridgett Floyd, founder of the George Floyd Memorial Foundation. “I just really wanted that officer to know how much love Floyd had.”

Bridgett Floyd, the sister of George Floyd, speaks outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. Floyd started the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in August, 2020 to honor her late brother. The Foundation provides scholarships to students in high school and law school and promotes acts of service in communities around the U.S. Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd while in police custody. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

“Violence is not the answer to everything,” she added, moments before breaking down in tears and being led away on the arm of Jacari Harris, the foundation’s executive director. “Sometimes we need to take a step back and think before we react. That’s me, you, officers, everybody. … I miss my brother. I miss my brother.”

Her brief appearance outside the downtown Minneapolis courthouse capped what was supposed to be the opening day of a lengthy jury selection process in the Chauvin trial, though potential jurors were sent home early while the court mulled reinstating a third-degree murder charge.

The former Minneapolis officer is accused of fatally detaining George Floyd, an out-of-work Minneapolis security guard, on May 25 outside Cup Foods in South Minneapolis by pinning him to the ground for nine minutes with his knee in Floyd’s neck.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has charged Chauvin with second-degree murder — unintentional, while committing a felony — and second-degree manslaughter. Opening arguments in the trial are tentatively slated for March 29.

PROTESTS AND MEDIA

Throughout the day, the scene outside the Hennepin County Government Center was both calm and active, with hundreds of protestors gathering outside the light rail transit station on Fifth Street from around 8 a.m. to noon to pay their respects to Floyd’s memory and demand justice for his death.

  • An image of George Floyd, painted on plywood, was displayed outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, as hundreds gathered to march and protest, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • A protester wrote in chalk on a barricaded window as hundreds demonstrated against the killing of George Floyd and Minneapolis Police actions outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • A protester draws a symbol of resistance as hundreds demonstrated against the killing of George Floyd and Minneapolis Police actions outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Hundreds of people held signs and marched to protest the killing of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Police outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Bridgett Floyd, the sister of George Floyd spoke to the media outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. Floyd started the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in August, 2020 to honor her late brother. The Foundation provides scholarships to students in high school and law school and promotes acts of service in communities around the U.S. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Bridgett Floyd, the sister of George Floyd spoke to the media outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, Monday, March 8, 2021. Floyd started the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in August, 2020 to honor her late brother. The Foundation provides scholarships to students in high school and law school and promotes acts of service in communities around the U.S. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Behind barricades, fencing and barbed wire, National Guard troops and vehicles guard the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, at the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin trial, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Mirrors, many intentionally broken, red paint and flowers were strewn in the street and on the lawn outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, as part of a project asking people to self reflect, Monday at the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin trial, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Mirrors, many intentionally broken, red paint and flowers were strewn on South 6th Street outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, as part of a project asking people to self reflect, Monday at the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin trial, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Mirrors, many intentionally broken, red paint and flowers were strewn in the street and on the lawn outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, as part of a project asking people to self reflect, Monday at the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin trial, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Behind barricades, fencing and barbed wire, National Guard troops guard the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, at the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin trial, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

  • Behind barricades, fencing and barbed wire, National Guard troops guard the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, at the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin trial, Monday, March 8, 2021. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

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Around mid-day, a protest march resulted in damage to glass windows along a block of Sixth Street, where protestors left red paint scrawled like blood in the street and scattered flowers.

The government center was guarded by Minneapolis police, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office and members of the Minnesota National Guard, and heavily barricaded with locked metal gates and, in some locations, barbed wire. Metal security barricades also surrounded U.S. Bank Stadium, about a third of a mile away.

In the afternoon, heavy media presence outnumbered onlookers waiting outside the courthouse to hear the latest trial news.

BLACK LIVES MATTER SIGNS

Undergraduates from Hamline University in St. Paul conducted political polling on behalf of the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Members of an advocacy group attempted to sign up protestors to vote in Minneapolis. And, a man circling the crowd on a double-decker “tall bike” blasted heavy metal music, which he sang along with happily.

Across the street, two merchants set out a table and sold “Black Lives Matter” pins and t-shirts.

Wearing a “Black Lives Matter” face mask, frequent protest organizer Marisa Fuglestad of St. Paul said she planned to return, again and again, in a sign of solidarity with the BLM movement.

“Cops need to be held accountable, just like the rest of us,” she said.

Next to her, Rico Ramos, a middle-aged man in a “Black Lives Matter” shirt, said the culture of policing in Minneapolis needs to change, and he said St. Paul is little different. He said he had no connection to Floyd other than what he saw in the news.

“That was bad, what happened to him,” said Ramos, who described himself as a Puerto Rican man from St. Paul’s East Side. Police from both cities are “twins. They’re no different. There’s just more crime out here in Minneapolis.”

GEORGE FLOYD MEMORIAL FOUNDATION

Bridgett Floyd, the Floyd’s family representative in court on Monday, issued a written statement explaining she founded the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in August 2020 as a way to honor her brother. The foundation, which has received donations from around the world, provides scholarships to students in high school and law school and promotes service in communities around the country, she said.

She said George Floyd was community-minded and volunteered his time regularly for those less fortunate.

“My brother George was a kind man who would give you the shirt off his back,” she said in the statement. “After he passed, I wanted to do something to honor his memory and ensure that I keep his legacy alive by helping those in need. My goal with the George Floyd Memorial Foundation is to work tirelessly to promote generosity toward others. That’s what George would have wanted.” She directed the public to georgefloydmemorialfoundation.org.

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