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Floyd activists see injustice in the strike of a Black juror.



Floyd activists see injustice in the strike of a Black juror.
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Floyd activists see injustice in the strike of a Black juror.

Floyd activists see injustice in the strike of a Black juror.


A potential juror who used to live in the area where George Floyd was arrested told the counsel for an ex-officer convicted in Floyd’s death that he wanted to serve on the jury for a personal reason.

“Because as a Black man, you see a lot of Black people get killed and no one is held responsible for it, and you wonder why or what the decisions were,” Juror No. 76 said during voir dire in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. “Perhaps I’ll be in the room to find out why with this.”

However, the man will not be there. Despite his claims that he could reasonably weigh the facts, he was hit by the defense. It was an example of how difficult it can be for those who claim to have firsthand experience with police brutality to be included on jury panels that keep them responsible.

“We have a Black man who was potentially in the strongest place to judge the case being excluded,” said Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and the founder of the Wayfinder Foundation, a community advocacy group.

The man claimed that he is exposed to regular prejudice and that police officers are more likely to use force against Black people than against white people. The omission of the juror was dubbed a “big slap in the face” by Levy Armstrong, who added that it “only reinforces why people feel there is institutional bias at work within these judicial systems.”

Chauvin’s jury selection is nearly complete, with 12 of the 14 eligible jurors chosen by Thursday. According to the court, the jury is equally divided in terms of race, with six white jurors, four black jurors, and two multiracial jurors.

Floyd was pronounced dead in May after Chauvin, a white man, pushed his knee against the Black man’s neck for nine minutes while he was handcuffed and face-down on the ground. Floyd screamed for air several times before becoming completely still.

Local advocates like Levy Armstrong, on the other hand, argue that police violence was pervasive long before Floyd’s death.

After a local individual was shot or convicted, juror 76 said Minneapolis police would “ride around the neighborhood with ‘Another One Bites the Dust'” to protect their identity.

Such background, according to Levy Armstrong, will be crucial to the party of 12 people determining Chauvin’s fate. Activists in the area have noted that many of the jurors have ties to police officers, and have wondered why a Black man who has had bad experiences with cops can’t serve on a jury.

After failing to have him struck “for cause,” Nelson used one of his peremptory strikes to dismiss the man, citing his poor opinion of Minneapolis police and statements that Floyd was “murdered.”

Prosecutors argued against the use of lethal force, claiming that the man was merely focusing on the facts of his situation and that he had stated that he could put his personal feelings aside.

Nelson’s unchallenged peremptory strike did not necessitate a clarification. Attorneys are not permitted to exclude a juror because of their race.

Judge Peter Cahill of Hennepin County said an appeal would not have succeeded in this case because of the man’s derogatory comments towards the Minneapolis Police Department.

However, he pointed out that the man’s words often demonstrated that he was capable of being fair.

“My conclusion from what he said is, ‘I will set it aside, and if he is not guilty, I can draw that verdict because I feel comfortable telling people why it happened,’” Cahill said, adding that this “would place him right in the center as far as fairness and impartiality.”

A jury consultant in Chicago, Alan Turkheimer, said he wasn’t shocked the prosecution would try to keep someone who had witnessed police brutality off the jury.

“Sometimes, even though they don’t realize it, people just can’t be fair,” he said. “It’s deeply rooted. It’s difficult to get rid of anything like that.”

He went on to say that interviewing — and potentially striking — potential jurors based on their past encounters gives police officers a “inbuilt advantage.”

During this week’s racial justice protests, several people have concentrated on structural bias in the justice system and how juries are chosen, according to Jaylani Hussein, a local activist and executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Minnesota branch.

“It’s a cruel, biased thought process: We have to keep people who may get upset — you know, the angry Black man or angry Black woman — off the jury so they won’t take anything seriously,” he said.

The thought of being a part of shaping Chauvin’s verdict was something the juror discussed with trepidation. He admitted that he had avoided watching in-depth news coverage of Floyd’s death, and that he had even avoided discussing the topic with his wife.

The juror said, “I didn’t form an opinion on Mr. Chauvin because I didn’t know him.” “It’s a pity. Another Black man has been killed by police. That was all I had to say.”

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