The Trial of Derek Chauvin for the Killing of George Floyd Begins and Family and Lawyers Take a Knee

Attorney Ben Crump (center) took a knee with members of George Floyd's family and Rev. Al Sharpton for 8 minutes and 46 seconds outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday, shortly before opening arguments began in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

On March 29th, 2021 the trial of Derek Chauvin began but before that, the family and lawyers of George Floyd kneeled outside the courthouse in his honor.

The brutal death of a 46-year-old black man George Floyd, in the hands of a white police officer, enraged thousands and sparked protests across the country and the world against police brutality and racism. The first and primary accused is Derek Chauvin, a 44-year-old who’s been in the police force for 19 years. He has been charged with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder for which he can face a prison sentence lasting up to 40 years. 

On the 25th of May, 2020, there had been a 911 call that reported that a counterfeit $20 bill was paid to Cup Foods in Minneapolis. As the police arrived, they spotted Floyd and wrongly assumed him to be the culprit. They handcuffed Floyd and struggled to take him into their car. Despite his numerous protests and pleas, the struggle continued. Chauvin kneeled on his neck and kept pressing down even after Mr. Floyd mentioned that he cannot breathe and called out to his mother. The officer was seen kneeling on the innocent man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, including the last 2 minutes where he was unresponsive. 

A bystander video documenting the whole incident quickly went viral in the country and worldwide which started a series of protests in over 150 American cities and internationally which lasted for over a month. Due to the public scrutiny, the four police officers involved in this gruesome murder were fired and three of them were jailed. 

This trial is one of the very first times when the people in a position of authority and power had to face the consequences of their actions. This trial would be a landmark on how far America has come in terms of equality and justice for all its citizens.

The medical examiner had revealed that the cause of death was a homicide due to asphyxiation. There were however other significant conditions mentioned such as fentanyl intoxication and signs of heart disease. This leads the lawyers for Floyd to believe that there will an attempt of character assassination for Floyd. They have asked the public to have hope and not be dissuaded by their lies.

There have been many such incidents where people of color were killed across the country and they have found no justice. The main purpose of this trial is preventing these incidents to happen ever again.

Before the trial began, members of the family of George Floyd and his legal team took a knee in protest for 8 minutes and 46 seconds- the total length of time that Chauvin was seen on the video kneeling on Floyd’s neck. The trial is being held at a heavily guarded Minneapolis courthouse and is estimated to last for a month.

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