Social Issues

With wounds open, Minneapolis braces for Chauvin trial in George Floyd case

By Alex Segura Lozano

Minneapolis, US, Mar 28 (efe-epa).- Residents of Minneapolis are bracing for Monday’s opening oral arguments in the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, who died in May last year after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned his knee against his neck until he turned still.

The alleged killing breathed fresh life into the Black Lives Matter movement and triggered one of the largest civil rights campaigns in the United States.

The kneeling on the neck of the black man, caught on camera by a bystander, also sparked protests across the world as people took to the streets against police brutality and racism in the US.

Ten months since Floyd’s death, opening statements will begin on Monday in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer.

Anwulika Okafor, who lives just two blocks away from the intersection where Floyd was allegedly asphyxiated by the officer, is wary of the outcome of the trial.

She does not trust that the US justice system could heal the wounds caused by the alleged brutal episode.

“We all saw Derek Chauvin pinning his knee to kill George Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, I still have no faith in the judicial system of this country (that he will) be convicted of murder,” Okafor, a community organizer, told EFE.

Okafor is collecting signatures from the residents for a campaign to change the city’s surveillance system.

Mapping Police Violence data indicates that police in 2020 killed 1,127 people and 96 percent were killed by police shootings.

Tasers, physical force, and police vehicles accounted for most other deaths, according to the data.

It said officers were charged with a crime in only 16 of these cases, which is one percent of all killings by police.

Chauvin faces second-and third-degree murder charges, as well as manslaughter.

People generally are less hopeful of the outcome, but many still believe that a just verdict in the alleged murder can help change the soaring bitter ties between police and minority communities.

Viviana Inamagua, a 23-year-old born in Veracruz (Mexico) and living in Minnesota for five years, said if justice was served in Floyd’s case and examples set with harsh punishments, officers would think twice before getting violent with minorities.

Inamagua has herself experienced certain types of discrimination committed by the authorities in the city of what she says “white privilege.”

“Just because of my skin color, police officers stare at me because of the stereotypes they have and I don’t feel safe,” Inamagua told EFE.

Inamagua, Okafor, and other residents of Minneapolis with whom EFE highlighted the “great international expectation” that the beginning of the trial has sparked.

Dozens of journalists from Spain, Chile, Australia, Israel, and different parts of the US have arrived in the “city of lakes” ahead of the trial that is expected to last a maximum of four weeks.

“I have never spoken or seen so many outsiders in our city. It is important that they tell the world about this,” an activist, who preferred not to reveal her identity, told EFE.

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