The highly publicized trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd on May 25, 2020, is coming to an end, after the prosecution and defense delivered their closing arguments on Monday.
The attorney for Chauvin, who is being charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, argued that his use of force was justified, and that he did what any “reasonable” officer would have done in a similar situation.
As the jury, made up of six white people and six people who are Black or multiracial, deliberates, the world’s attention turns toward the upper Midwest state of Minnesota.
Following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, the world erupted into protests and passionate demonstrations pushing for police reform and racial justice.
“This wasn’t policing. This was murder. The defendant is guilty of all three counts, all of them. And there’s no excuse,” said the prosecutor Monday.
The prosecutor asserted that the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that the white former Minneapolis police officer spent kneeling on George Floyd’s neck “was a straight up felony assault. It was not policing. It was unnecessary. It was gratuitous. It was disproportionate. And he did it on purpose.”
The most serious of Chauvin’s charges carries up to 40 years in prison.
A source of international attention and controversy, the Chauvin trial has gripped the world and captured the attention of millions who are waiting to see justice served.
“I don’t think anyone in Minneapolis, frankly anyone in the U.S., and over a good part of the world, would understand any verdict other than guilty,” said California Representative Karen Bass of the trial.
As everyone awaits a verdict, demonstrators have begun marching through Minneapolis and gathering outside of the courthouse where the jury is deliberating. The city is on edge and some businesses have begun boarding up storefronts in case protests break out and turn violent.
Representative Maxine Waters of California said, “We’re looking for a guilty verdict and we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd. If nothing does not happen, then we know that we got to not only stay in the street, but we have got to fight for justice.”
According to a report from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, there were at least 7,750 demonstrations across the United States linked to the Black Lives Matter movement between the date of George Floyd’s death and August 22, 2020.
Over the last year, tens of millions of Americans mobilized in support of the movement and demanded change and justice, making it the largest movement in United States history.
While the case centers around the murder of one man, George Floyd, the racial component of the case is exigent, and the decision will undoubtedly have a profound impact on social justice and set the tone for race relations across the United States, which is home to some 46.8 million Black or African American people.
The voice of the people has been resounding but now the fate of Derek Chauvin and potential future of racial justice lies in the hands of twelve people.
Whatever verdict they reach, the impact of their decision will be colossal as it marks one of the most publicized and highly anticipated verdicts in American legal history. Its impact will not be limited to the state of Minneapolis or even the United States but will be seen around the globe.