U.S. protesters demand justice ahead of George Floyd’s murder trial

With a copy box covered in red roses, thousands of people marched Sunday in the American city of Minneapolis, the day before the trial began for the white police accused of killing George Floyd, a black man.

The divided crowd remained silent and sometimes laughed “No justice, no peace!”

Floyd was 46 when he died of suffocation, when the then officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes on May 25, 2020. His death triggered a nationwide protest movement against racism and police brutality.

Chauvin, who was fired by Minneapolis police, faces second-degree murders and accusations of murder.

To hold up a banner printed with Floyd’s last words – “I can not breathe” – the protesters marched around the Hennepin County Government Center, the site of the local government, where the jury election begins Monday.

The court likens an armed camp, surrounded by concrete barriers and barbed wire fencing, for fear of escalating demonstrations during the trial.

Authorities have mobilized thousands of police and members of the National Guard to provide security.

Many protesters on Sunday said they were worried that Chauvin would go free, but warned that this would not come without consequences.

“I hope our legal system allows all the evidence to be presented and we get a conviction, but I do not expect that,” Billie Jean Vanknight, a 43-year-old black woman, told AFP.

“If he goes free, I want even more people on the streets,” she added, saying his acquittal would need to act as an “alarm clock” and advocate non-violent responses.

“I hope to go to court, but I do not know what to expect,” said Allie Jacox, 36.

“People are afraid of change,” said Jacox, an African-American.

The arguments in court are scheduled to begin on March 29. A verdict is not expected until the end of April.