Brankin: Hoping justice will prevail

The Chauvin trial will cause tension across the country in the upcoming months, but we must persist in our demand for a fair trial and impartial jury.

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Tara Brankin

It has been almost 10 months since George Floyd was allegedly murdered by Derek Chauvin, a now-former police officer for the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). Floyd’s death rocked the country and caused justified outrage, sparking uprisings in many major cities. This week, on March 8, the trial of Derek Chauvin is finally beginning. Chauvin is currently facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Additionally, the Minnesota Court of Appeals is considering reinstating a third-degree murder charge. If convicted, Chauvin will face up to 40 years in prison.

Floyd’s death was monumental in bringing historically persistent acts of police brutality back into the spotlight. While there have been many instances of racial profiling leading to the tragic deaths of Black Americans, the gruesome video of Floyd crying out for his life under Chauvin’s knee showed how blatant this problem really is, and how nothing consequential was being done to stop it. In the weeks following Floyd’s death, the city of Minneapolis seemed to implode, with protests and uprisings being met with rubber bullets and tear gas.

While jury deliberation will not begin for another few weeks, jury selection alone has caused the tension caused by Floyd’s death to reemerge stronger than ever. On my Instagram feed, I have seen many people already planning on attending protests around the Minneapolis courthouse where the trial is taking place. Clearly, some people are planning for justice to not prevail. This is understandable given the track record of individuals not being held accountable for the deaths of Black Americans.

The city of Minneapolis has made it perfectly clear that they are expecting conflict no matter the verdict. At least $1 million is being spent on installing fences and other barricades around the courthouse, and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey revealed that he has been working with the state and Minnesota National Guard to avoid unrest. I know many are hoping that the trial is fair, and that the verdict would give no reason for unrest. I think a heavy military presence will only increase hostility and remind people of the violent and tumultuous summer of 2020, which could have very negative effects on the entire city.

In order for Chauvin to be found guilty, the jury will have to make a unanimous decision regarding his role in Floyd’s death. If just one person disagrees with the other jurors, a mistrial will occur. A mistrial would be incredibly problematic, because it could allow Chauvin to work out a plea bargain, lead to another trial or even get the charges dismissed.

I am sincerely hoping that this will be a fair trial and that Chauvin will receive the punishment I believe he deserves. While deliberation won’t take place for a few weeks, the entire city and I are going to be holding our breath, hoping justice will be served. Personally, I think that the video footage of Floyd’s death is enough to convict anyone of murder, regardless of their job. Even the county medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide. I hope that the jury will see the video and quickly decide that Chauvin should be put in prison for the full 40 years. It is time to start holding men like Chauvin accountable for taking the lives of Black Americans.