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The Mankato (Minnesota) Free Press on jury selection for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who pressed his knee against George Floyd’s neck:
In a courtroom in a well-barricaded tower in downtown Minneapolis, a judge this week – and for days to come – is presiding over jury selection for the trial of Derek Chauvin.
Needed are more than a dozen conscientious citizens willing and able to set aside what they already know, feel and believe about one of the most radioactive deaths in Minnesota history. The death last Memorial Day of George Floyd at the knee of Chauvin, then a Minneapolis police officer, sparked nights of rioting in the Twin Cities and elsewhere.
It hardly the first case of civil unrest from a populace that feels itself less protected by police than oppressed. This nation has had decades of such incidents. Watts in 1965. Detroit in 1967. Ferguson in 2014. Kenosha in 2020. But the death of Floyd felt different; the nation, indeed the world, has seen the video of Chauvin kneeling nonchalantly on Floyd’s neck for as much as nine minutes as the Black man pleaded to be allowed to breathe.
It is difficult to imagine a more symbolic case of police impunity than that one.
Finding residents of Hennepin County without an opinion on the killing of George Floyd, and its reverberations, is probably impossible. Anybody that isolated from the world probably isn’t fit to sit in judgment of another human’s actions anyway. A more reasonable goal is a jury that can block out last spring’s trauma and reach a verdict strictly on what is revealed in the courtroom.
The prosecutors and defense have other goals. They want jurors who can be expected to vote their way. One day into jury selection the prosecution was already complaining to the judge that the defense was striking jurors on the basis of race. (The judge disagreed, at least in that specific case.)
The selection of the Chauvin jury, then, will be drawn out and contentious. It is also vitally important, not only for the defendant’s future but for the community. Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.