The jury for the Derek Chauvin trial has reached a verdict. The jury has found former Minneapolis police officer guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd. In light of last year's riots, the city of Minneapolis has been bracing itself for the reaction to the verdict.
During the summer, Twin Cities' restaurants and retail stores were "hit the hardest" as a result of George Floyd's murder. According to the Star Tribune, rioters caused "millions in property damage to more than 1,500 locations." The Star Tribune wrote a comprehensive piece in July on the damage produced.
The case was handed to the jury yesterday, with Judge Peter Cahill reminding the jury to be aware of the certain possibility of their "hidden implicit or unconscious biases." Cahill explained that "the law demands that [jury] decisions be based solely on the evidence, your individual evaluations of that evidence, your reason and common sense...and to not allow bias, prejudice, passion, sympathy or public opinion influence your decision."
There is little doubt that the jury in this case faced tremendous pressure due to the polarization in the country over racial issues and because of elected officials like Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who seems to gravitate toward throwing verbal gasoline on the fire with her somewhat frequent incendiary public statements. "I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the Judicial Branch in their function...their failure to do so is abhorrent." He also voiced his concern that such public statements by Waters could be grounds for the defense to appeal a verdict.
Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, requested a mistrial, but his request was denied. Nelson stated that, between the public comments by Congresswoman Waters and the media coverage, those two things can be "reasonably interpreted to be threatening and intimidating to the jury process—demanding for the jury that if there is not a guilty verdict, there would be 'further problems.'"
Nelson also commented that the case has been tremendously public, and the jury has never been sequestered, despite his requests "all along." He mentioned that jury members have not repeatedly been reminded to stay away from the press in general—only about this case—and there is a "high probability" that the jury is aware of Waters' statements. The entire 8:33 minute exchange can be found here.
It is not the first time Waters has made public, inflammatory statements about issues of importance. She encouraged followers in a rally on June 23, 2018, to "get out and create a crowd, and you push back on them, and you tell them they're not welcome," referring to those in the Trump administration cabinet. A video compilation of some of Water's public comments can be found here.
Congresswoman Waters told protesters in Brooklyn Center, MN on Monday, (which according to neighborhood scout, has a crime index of six —100 being the safest), that protesters "got to stay on the street, get more active and more confrontational. They've got to know we mean business." She also told reporters that a manslaughter verdict was not adequate—"No, no, no," she said, "This is, this is guilty—for murder...I don't know whether it's first degree, but as far as I'm concerned, it's first degree."
First-degree murder would mean that Chauvin's act was "willful and premeditated, meaning that it was committed after planning or "lying in wait" for the victim." Her statement and answers to reporters can be viewed in their entirety below.
Waters is not the only public official to make inflammatory statements. Both the media and leadership in Congress made public comments that could be construed as incendiary by many during the time President Trump held office. There seem to be few if any consequences for such behavior, which is perhaps why it continues to happen.
During the first 15 minutes of Episode 885 of Steve Bannon's War Room, a reporter from America's Voice told Bannon that the city is on edge. She explained that the media presence is "big," and the people of Minneapolis are boarding up their homes and shops to protect themselves from potential violence. There is also a huge uniformed law enforcement presence.
"Every block has a security team—National Guard, the Hennepin County Sheriff Department, and the Minneapolis Police Departments. All three of these crews have banded together for what they are calling 'Operation Safety Net' They will be policing the streets through jury deliberation, through the verdict, and after the verdict, until the streets are safe and the community is safe because nobody really knows what's going to happen."
There are over 3000 National Guard members and another 1100 public security members involved in protecting the citizens of Minneapolis, according to the America's Voice reporter. She said the people in Minneapolis "just want peace." A man was arrested over the weekend for shooting and injuring two National Guard soldiers. Andrew Thomas was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He fired at a team of National Guard soldiers and a Minneapolis police officer.
Doug Wardlow, who is currently General Counsel at Mike Lindell's MyPillow, Inc., has reportedly thrown his hat into the political ring to run for the Republican nomination for Attorney General in Minnesota. Keith Ellison currently holds the position.
Ellison's official statement on March 5 concurred with the Court of Appeals that a former district court "erred in not granting the State’s motion to reinstate the charge of 3rd-degree murder against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd." Wardlow, who also appeared on Bannon's Monday show, commented on the presence of so many National Guard, Waters' statement, and Ellison's failure to condemn Water's statements.
Wardlow noted that it is a "very tense situation" in Minnesota and the presence of over 4000 law enforcement is not normal. "It indicates, really, a more fundamental problem. The problem is that here in Minnesota, our Attorney General Keith Ellison has not done anything to dispel this culture of lawlessness and what is really being created is this false narrative of 'systemic racism' ...and has been explored by so many irresponsible politicians here in Minnesota and across the country and we are seeing the ramifications of that here in Minneapolis as we are on tenterhooks to see what the outcome of the trial is. The question is whether our justice system can really deliver [their] verdict and really function under this kind of pressure."
Wardlow says that "law and order should not be controversial," and he says that Ellison's "failure to condemn Maxine Water's dangerous comments show exactly why he is unqualified to remain as Attorney General." As of this writing, Ellison has made no comment on Water's comments.
The jury of five men and seven women began deliberations on Monday. According to reporting by CNN, "[o]f the 12 jurors, six are White, four are Black, and two are multiracial, according to information released by the court. Two other White women who had been selected as alternates in the case were dismissed by the judge prior to deliberations." The Jury selection process began Mar. 9 and was completed on Mar. 23.