In the immortal words of numerous Star Wars characters, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
The Derek Chauvin trial for allegedly killing George Floyd is very quickly turning into Minnesota’s own mini version of the O.J. Simpson trial. The entire trial is going to take way, way longer than any sort of regular murder trial. Just the jury selection is predicted to take somewhere around three weeks to complete, and even if it doesn’t take that long, the trial itself won’t start before March 25. All told, it will probably amount to over a month before any sort of verdict is read.
Even in the first hour of the trial, it got delayed as the two sides couldn’t agree if they could start wading through the jury pool since the defense is in fact appealing to the State Supreme Court the appellate court’s ruling that a charge of 3rd degree murder shouldn’t have been removed from the list of charges to be considered.
Meanwhile, groups of activists are planning almost daily demonstrations/protests for the duration of the trial. Now, I’m not saying they don’t have the right to peacefully protest. But they also have to understand that their repeated marches won’t change a single thing going on inside the courtroom. In fact, I would contend the only thing they will accomplish is lighting a very slow-burning fuse, which is attached to a large bomb set to explode pretty much as soon as a verdict is reached.
What’s more, I don’t think there’s a way to extinguish that fuse. It’s pretty much established there will be repercussions if the “right” verdict isn’t reached. The thing is, though, many have already declared the only verdict they will consider to be just is guilty of 1st degree murder. Well, that ship has already sailed, meaning the best they can hope for is 2nd degree murder.
So, once the verdict is read, the serious, larger scale protests will begin, probably via their favorite form of civil disobedience - the blocking of roads and freeways coupled with massive gatherings in front of police stations, the courthouse, and probably the governor’s mansion, just to name a few locals.
And even though most of these protests are meant to be peaceful, the shear numbers will create a perfect opening for anyone to start serious trouble, leading to a repeat of last summer’s riots.
To cap it all off, people will be able to watch the entire trial and aftermath on TV thanks to a groundbreaking decision by Judge Peter Cahill to allow cameras in the courtroom. Under normal circumstances, I would be applauding this decision as long overdue for Minnesota. Cameras in the courtroom increases the validity of there being a fair trial. In general, it’s hard to fully understand or accept the results of a trial when all you see are corny sketch artist renderings, coupled with soundbites selected by the media. But in this case, I’m afraid it will only add fuel to the fire rather than help extinguish it.
I have been saying all along they should have somehow arranged so that the trial would take place in the middle of Minnesota’s winter as it is absolutely true that our harsh weather helps keep the riffraff out. But now, barring a perfectly timed freak early spring snowstorm, I’m afraid our fate has already been sealed.
BILL STICKELS III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or email@example.com.