Protesters push bail bond reform following bail release of former officer charged with murder of George Floyd

“… We’d like to know where the money came from,” said Trahern Crews, the lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Minnesota.

Demonstrators gather to protest former MPD Officer Derek Chauvin’s release on bail outside of the Hennepin County Government Center on Thursday, Oct. 8. The demonstration began with speeches and ended with a march.

by Samantha Woodward and Samantha Hendrickson

Protesters gathered Thursday night for a second round of demonstrations in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, following the bail release of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, whose bail was posted Wednesday, was charged with murder and manslaughter after kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, all while Floyd was handcuffed and cried out that he could not breathe.

Community outrage quickly followed his bail release. Demonstrators peacefully protested on both Wednesday and Thursday, calling for Chauvin’s conviction, the firing of police union President Bob Kroll and police and bail bond reform.

Cintya Canales, a friend of George Floyd, danced with her children and other members of Indigenous community groups during a traditional Aztec dance ceremony to open the protest and honor Floyd.

“There’s a lot of people in the community that are hurting … There’s a lot of anger,” Canales said. She added that offering these traditional dances to the community is a way of promoting peace, just like marching or speaking out.

Several community organizations banded together to organize the protests in Government Plaza in downtown Minneapolis Thursday night, including Black Lives Matter Minnesota, Blue Lies Matter, Native Lives Matter, Communities United Against Police Brutality and several others.

Despite the fact that police arrested 51 protesters Wednesday night, hundreds showed up in front of the Hennepin County Government Center to honor George Floyd and others killed in police custody. Cortez Rice, George Floyd’s “nephew by loyalty,” said that they are “not asking anymore.”

University of Minnesota first-year roommates Bella Carpentier and Arthi Jegraj attended the demonstration because of the racial disparities they have seen in Minneapolis. Jegraj, an Indian woman from San Francisco, said she does not see racial diversity on campus and does not feel as safe as she did back home.

“I’m here because it personally affects me as a person of color, and it’s something that I wasn’t able to do under my parent’s roof. And now that I’m out on my own, it’s a cause that I can openly support,” Jegraj said.

Meanwhile, in Saint Paul, around 150 demonstrators calling themselves “The Secret March,” made their way from the State Capitol down University Avenue. Police and other law enforcement were present, many donning riot gear as they surrounded the state’s capitol building, blocked off side street access to University Avenue and followed the march.

Many community organizers expressed confusion as to how Chauvin, who the Minneapolis Police Department fired on May 26, could afford to cover his $1 million bail.

Black Lives Matter Minnesota’s lead organizer and lifetime resident of St. Paul Trahern Crews described Chauvin as a “flight risk” who should not have been able to post bail.

“… We’d like to know where the money came from,” Crews said. “We think that the fraternal order of police, if they did raise money for him, should stop raising money for killer cops.”

Court documents show a non-cash bond posted for Chauvin by an unknown benefactor through A-Affordable Bail Bonds in Brainerd, Minnesota. Chauvin was released from a state high-security prison in Oak Park Heights on the same day. The bail system requires that only 10%, in this case $100,000, be paid to a bail bond company in order for bail to be posted.

Chauvin must follow several judge-ruled conditions until his court date in March 2021.

A bail fund was posted on Give, Send, Go, which labels itself as the “#1 Free Christian Crowdfunding Site,” for Chauvin. While the fund organizers only raised $5,580 of their $125,000 goal as of Oct. 9, an update on the site said any donations will now be used for Chauvin’s living expenses.

Many organizers said the bail system does not favor Black people the way it helped Chauvin and other officers.

“A lot of reasons why Black people are killed by the police and why they’re able to get away with it is because of economics,” Crews said. “They say there’s underlying issues that make a person get COVID-19, and there’s also underlying issues that lead up to police terror, and it deals with poverty.”