Metro Detroit activists say work is far from over as Derek Chauvin’s trial begins

Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin is accused of killing George Floyd

DETROIT – Jury selection begins Monday in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with killed George Floyd.

Barricades have gone up around the Minneapolis courthouse and 2,000 National Guard troops are on standby.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Prosecutors said Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for 9 and a half minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground.

Activists said this is the time for reflection and action to push the movement for racial equity forward, regardless of what happens in Minneapolis.

“George Floyd was a catalyst in a lot of ways,” said Nakia Wallace. “But really, he was the the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Wallace is a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe, which led the largely peaceful protests in Detroit. After more than 100 days of protest over the summer in cities across Metro Detroit, activists said their work is far from done.

Wallace said Floyd’s death was a first step in the fight for equal justice.

“This is how we stand up in defense of our lives,” Wallace said. “And so yes, it absolutely was successful, but it’s an ongoing movement.”

Detroit NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony agrees that the fight is far from over.

“The legacy that he leaves is that America still needs to deal with itself,” Anthony said. “The justice system, the criminal justice system and all of America’s sons and daughters, men not treated equally. Black lives do matter.”

Detroit police chief James Craig has said Detroit is prepared for potential protests.

“We don’t know what the outcome will be, but given what we know, we are prepared to keep our city and our protesters safe,” Craig said.

Activists said they’re prepared too.

“What we saw was murder. That’s clear from that video,” Wallace said. “If they’re not held accountable in the course, it means that people are going to come to the streets to hold them accountable themselves.”

Opening statements in the trial were expected to begin March 29, but a state appeals court is recommending another charge be added back -- third-degree murder -- which could delay the trial.

READ: Detroit Protests

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