The first week of the Derek Chauvin trial concluded Friday with one longtime Minneapolis officer testifying that Chauvin’s use of force on George Floyd was “totally unnecessary.”
“Pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time…it’s just uncalled for,” said Chief of Homicide Lt Richard Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has served on the force since 1985. He said Chauvin violated his training in using the most deadly level of force, adding that having Floyd in handcuffs had already reduced the threat to officer safety. Zimmerman’s criticisms echoed an earlier testimony by Chauvin’s former police supervisor.
Thursday the City of Minneapolis released survey results indicating local support for the reopening of 38th & Chicago as part of its public safety plan. However, some community members are skeptical. Organizer Marcia Howard challenges the narrative that local residents and George Floyd Square occupiers are two distinct groups. “If you’re in the space, you see that it’s residents, we walk to the barricades from our homes,” said Howard. “We’re residents who are just sick and tired of being sick and tired. And it’s our neighborhood. So we’re the ones that sweep the streets, we feed people, we house the houseless.”
Howard says the square is a center for art and mutual aid that has brought the neighborhood together. She says the city must continue to take meaningful steps toward police reform. Until then, Howard says organizers plan to continue to resist the re-opening of George Floyd Square. “It’s only after we get a modicum of justice that we’ll talk about moving out of the way,” she said. “But to be clear, injustice closed these streets so shouldn’t justice open them?”
Feven Gerezgiher reporting for the Racial Reckoning Project
Photo Courtesy of Chioma Uwagwu