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World

Minneapolis braces for conclusion of George Floyd trial

  • "I think there'll be riots" if Chauvin is found not guilty, said surgeon Pouya Hemmati, 31. "I think people will be very upset."
20 Apr 2021

MINNEAPOLIS: Janay Clayton has no doubt there will be trouble in Minneapolis if the white ex-police officer accused of murdering George Floyd walks free -- with soldiers patrolling the streets and shops boarded up in anticipation of a verdict.

"We're prepared for the worst," Clayton, a resident of the US city, told AFP on Monday, at the start of the trial's fourth week.

The 62-year-old warned there could be fresh protests if Derek Chauvin is acquitted for Floyd's death.

The former officer was captured on video kneeling on the 46-year-old Black man's neck for nine and a half minutes last May.

Clanton is not the only person to be worried: emotions -- and tensions -- are running sky high in the Midwestern city, which has become synonymous with huge protests against racial injustice and police brutality that last year ignited a nationwide reckoning.

The downtown courthouse where Chauvin awaits the jury's verdict is surrounded by skyscrapers whose doors and windows are boarded up, while the court itself is protected by armored military vehicles and 10-foot concrete walls, as the jury retires to deliberate on Chauvin's fate after hearing closing arguments.

Traffic has been diverted away from police precincts, which were targeted in violent demonstrations last year.

"I live downtown and we're all quite concerned about the outcome of the trial," Clanton said. "You can see by walking through downtown."

Anything short of a guilty verdict, and the city -- where a few last winter snowflakes were still falling Monday -- could erupt with new violence.

"I think there'll be riots" if Chauvin is found not guilty, said surgeon Pouya Hemmati, 31. "I think people will be very upset."

"Everybody saw somebody put his knee on his neck for 9.5 minutes," he added. "I hope that he is convicted of what was very clearly a murder and excessive police brutality."

The police veteran, who has pleaded not guilty, faces a maximum of 40 years in prison.

But a conviction on any of the charges -- second-degree murder, third-degree murder or manslaughter -- will require the jury to return a unanimous verdict.

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