Minneapolis braces itself for trial of ex-cop who knelt on George Floyd's neck

Minneapolis, Minnesota – Jury selection begins on Monday for the highly anticipated trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who placed a knee on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, sparking worldwide Black Lives Matter protests.

Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin (44) has pleaded not guilty to charges issued after George Floyd's death.
Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin (44) has pleaded not guilty to charges issued after George Floyd's death.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Chauvin (44) has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd (†46).

The selection of the jury for his trial is expected to take around three weeks, according to CNN. The opening statements will begin on March 29 at the earliest and should require between two and four weeks.

In order to be selected, potential jury members had to fill out a 16-question survey in December. Because George Floyd's death sparked so much public outrage, the court is very concerned with selecting jurors who will approach the evidence in an unbiased manner.

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Former Hennepin County public defender Mary Moriarty explained: "No matter what a potential juror has seen or heard, can they set that aside and base their decision on evidence in court and the law the judge gives them?"

Now, the remaining prospective jurors will be individually questioned by the judge, defense, and prosecution in the final selection process. They will then name 16 candidates, including 12 jurors and four alternates.

Due to the coronavirus, all trial attendees will be required to wear masks and remain socially distanced. The proceedings will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend.

Only one member of Floyd's family and one member of Chauvin's family will be allowed inside the courtroom.

The National Guard is prepared to respond in case of unrest

The city and county spent $420,000 on barricades around the courthouse alone.
The city and county spent $420,000 on barricades around the courthouse alone.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Authorities are keen to take proper security proceedings given the high-profile nature of the case.

The Hennepin County Government Center, where the jury selection is to take place, is now protected by fencing and barricades.

According to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, up to 2,000 National Guard members and 1,100 law enforcement officers from neighboring jurisdictions are on standby in case of unrest.

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The Minneapolis Police Department has created its own "Operation Safety Net" security plan in the lead-up to the trial.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington explained, "As of right now, we do not have any current, actionable intelligence about groups planning to come here to disrupt the trial or to cause disorder. We are exercising this unified command out of caution."

According to the Star Tribune, the safety measures will cost the city and county up to $1 million, with the barricades around the courthouse alone amounting to around $420,000.

Critics have described the barricades as reminiscent of Cold War fortifications.
Critics have described the barricades as reminiscent of Cold War fortifications.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Many protesters and community leaders have criticized the expensive, Cold War-style fortifications, Minnesota Public Radio reported. For example, Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality stated, "They are more afraid of the people than they are of police violence. They want to make it seem like the protesters are the problem, not the police violence that led to our protests."

After intense backlash, the city also ditched a plan to hire social media influencers to post "city generated and approved messages" during the trial.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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