MINNEAPOLIS (NewsNation Now) — Minneapolis’ mayor and city leaders are preparing for protests in the lead up to the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd last May.
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in Chauvin’s trial on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Floyd, who was Black, died May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe. Civil unrest unfolded across the U.S. after Floyd’s death, at points turning violent locally.
Mayor Jacob Frey said Thursday that the city is preparing for peaceful protests, which are expected to begin this weekend. The Minneapolis Police Department has also conducted de-escalation training ahead of the trial.
The city announced plans to fund a network of community groups that can patrol neighborhoods and work on the ground during “periods of heightened tension,” including the trials of the officers accused in Floyd’s death.
The announcement comes as an appeals court is considering whether to reinstate a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, after a trial judge dismissed the count last October. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill ruled that a third-degree murder charge under Minnesota law requires proof that someone’s conduct was “eminently dangerous to others,” not just to Floyd. Cahill said there was no evidence that Chauvin’s actions were dangerous to anyone else and threw out the charge.
Prosecutors have asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to reinstate it.
A three-judge panel heard oral arguments on the request earlier this week. The panel is expected to issue an expedited decision as soon as possible given the looming trial date.
Legal experts argue that reinstating the lesser count could increase the prosecution’s odds of getting a murder conviction in what will be one of Minnesota’s highest-profile trials ever.
Three other former officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. They’re scheduled for trial in August. Prosecutors have asked the Court of Appeals to reinstate third-degree murder charges against them, too, but that question will be resolved later.
Tensions are growing in Minneapolis just days before Chauvin’s trial begins.
The City Council was briefed earlier this week on security measures during the trial, and concrete barriers are already put up. Barbed-wire fences and plywood also expected, in addition to thousands of National Guard troops.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reporting by Steve Karnowski.