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Protesters March Through Downtown Minneapolis On Eve Of Chauvin Trial

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A day before jury selection in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd is set to begin, protesters marched through downtown Minneapolis.

The march -- led by a casket with Floyd's picture on it -- started at the Hennepin County Government Center Sunday afternoon. The purpose of the chant-free, silent protest was to demand justice for Floyd, and greater accountability for police.

Downtown Minneapolis Protest On Eve Of Derek Chauvin Trial's Start
(credit: CBS)

Activists and seasoned protesters were joined by families with children. Akochi Agunwamda says he's teaching his four girls about right and wrong by bringing them to the protest, and working to create a safer world for them.

"They're home-schooled, and unfortunately this is part of what we have to teach them," Agunwamda said.

He says they're cute now, but he fears they'll one day be viewed as dangerous because of the color of their skin.

"The best thing for everyone is for everyone to be held accountable equally," Agunwamda said.

The group marched to Hennepin Avenue and Fourth Street, where everyone paused while the names of Minnesotans who have been killed by police in the last 20 years were read aloud.

Kaia Hirt was one of the protesters in attendance.

"It was unbelievably [powerful] just to sit in the space and hear the enormity of the loss with every name. Every one of those names represents someone who was loved by a family, by a brother or a sister or a child or friends," Hirt said.

Downtown Minneapolis Protest On Eve Of Derek Chauvin Trial's Start
(credit: CBS)

At the same time as the march, a group of clergy from several churches held space, praying together for peace and justice. The diversity of the protesters encouraged some of them the day before jury selection.

WCCO spoke with Pastor Brian Herron of Zion Baptist Church.

"There is a hope and a peace in the midst of the tension. There's a lot of tension, and we can't deny that," Herron said. "It looks like there's a collective coming together around this, and that's what we need right now is for us not to be divided."

The plaza at the government center downtown is restricted access because of the trial, but an organizer of Sunday's march said they'll be right back there Monday at 8 a.m.

Fences Outside Hennepin County Government Center Ahead Of Chauvin Trial
Barriers set up outside the Hennepin County Government Center during Derek Chauvin's trial (credit: CBS)

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to the murder and manslaughter charges he faces. The Minnesota Court of Appeals said the judge needs to reconsider reinstating a third-degree murder charge, which could come at any time. If appealed, the start of the trial could be delayed.

One of the lawyers that represents Floyd's family says their message to protesters has not changed. Sunday morning on CBS's "Face the Nation," Ben Crump said the family's hope is Floyd's legacy will lead to systematic changes in policing.

Once jury selection begins, it could take up to three weeks before opening statements happen.

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