Hundreds Protest Near Minneapolis for Fifth Night

Unlike on previous nights of demonstrations over the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright, the authorities did not fire projectiles at the crowd.,

Last Updated April 16, 2021, 1:29 a.m. ETApril 16, 2021, 1:29 a.m. ET

In tribute to Daunte Wright, air fresheners were attached to an extra layer of fences outside the Brooklyn Center police station. There were small vigils in Chicago after video footage of a 13-year-old’s death was released.

ImageProtesters outside the police station in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Thursday night.
Protesters outside the police station in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Thursday night.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
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April 16, 2021, 1:16 a.m. ETApril 16, 2021, 1:16 a.m. ET
A demonstrator outside the Brooklyn Center police department on Thursday night.
A demonstrator outside the Brooklyn Center police department on Thursday night.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — For a fifth night after a police officer in a Minneapolis suburb shot and killed a 20-year-old man, hundreds of people rattled fences, chanted and threw water bottles at officers guarding a police station that has become a target for protesters.

But unlike on the previous four nights, police officers and National Guard troops did not fire rubber bullets, tear gas or pepper spray at the crowd, with simple security measures — including an additional fence — seeming to prevent intense clashes. Some people did occasionally throw things at officers, but the police did not respond.

Rather than ending with dozens of arrests, the demonstration largely came to a close by 11 p.m. — an hour after a curfew — when most people who had gathered over an officer’s killing of Daunte Wright left on their own accord.

The calmer protest came despite fears that body camera footage of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy, which was released on Thursday, would further inflame tensions in Brooklyn Center. The video appeared to show the boy, Adam Toledo, throwing a gun behind a fence and then raising his empty hands as a police officer shot him in the chest last month.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and lawyers for the teenager’s family had pleaded with people to protest peacefully, and they did: Mourners gathered where Adam had been killed on the city’s West Side, lighting candles and placing flowers at a memorial.

In Brooklyn Center, protesters vowed to return in greater numbers this weekend. The Twin Cities region has been tense for weeks as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, captured the attention of residents. Mr. Chauvin chose not to testify on Thursday, and closing arguments are expected on Monday, after which the jury will begin deliberating over a verdict.

Tensions in Brooklyn Center may have been eased by a prosecutor’s decision to charge Kimberly A. Potter, the officer who shot Mr. Wright after shouting that she was going to use a Taser on him, with second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday, though many in the crowd have demanded more severe charges.

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April 15, 2021, 11:36 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 11:36 p.m. ET

The New York Times

Chicago residents demonstrated downtown and in the Little Village neighborhood on Thursday after the body camera video was released by police showing the shooting death of 13 year-old Adam Toledo.

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April 15, 2021, 11:30 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 11:30 p.m. ET
Activists projected “Black Lives Matter” onto an apartment building across the street from the Brooklyn Center, Minn., police station.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

As challenging as the nightly clashes between police and protesters in Brooklyn Center, Minn., have been for both parties, they may be even more difficult for another group: the people who live across the street.

Residents of the four apartment buildings across from the Brooklyn Center Police Department have had to contend with police tear gas seeping into their homes, noise from protesters and fear that their windows could be shattered by rubber bullets fired by officers.

On the first night of protests, hours after a police officer shot and killed Daunte Wright, 20, residents began to be choked by tear gas on their balconies.

“We had to shut the doors because it was all in my house,” Tasha Nethercutt, who had four young children in her home, told a New York Times reporter on Sunday night.

And while the police have sprayed less tear gas on recent nights, the rubber bullets and pepper spray have continued. Each night, residents have peeked out from behind curtains over sliding doors. Children’s toys can be seen on many of the balconies. On Thursday evening, after an article about the residents’ plight was published on the front page of The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, a group of people brought groceries to many of the residents’ homes.

A former property manager said she had come to the first night of protests because she was worried for her former tenants. She said there were 54 units across the four buildings and that many were filled with families with young children.

“There are kids in all of these buildings,” said the woman, Kimberly Lovett.

Demonstrators who tried to keep the protest calm on Thursday referenced the residents.

“Think about the people who actually live in this neighborhood,” said one man as he admonished others to stay peaceful. “There are actual people that live here.”

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April 15, 2021, 11:05 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 11:05 p.m. ET

By Brandon Dupre and Kerry Lester Kasper

A memorial to Adam Toledo, who was fatally shot by police.
A memorial to Adam Toledo, who was fatally shot by police.Credit…Carlos Javier Ortiz for The New York Times

Near a memorial in the Chicago alley where 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a police officer, Ana Lopez on Thursday called his death a protest moment for the city’s Hispanic communities.

“It’s the same thing in the African-American neighborhoods as it is in the Latino neighborhoods,” said Ms. Lopez, 32, who lives in Little Village, the predominantly Latino neighborhood on the city’s West Side where Adam was shot last month. “We have to look for protection from the Chicago police and we can’t anymore. The police killings need to stop.”

Adam, who was Hispanic, was shot by a white police officer on March 29, after the police responded to reports of gunfire.

Officials released body-camera footage of the shooting on Thursday. The authorities said Adam was holding a gun when he ran down the alley as an officer commanded him to drop the weapon. In an analysis of the videos by The New York Times, Adam can be seen holding what appears to be a gun in the moments before the shooting. He appears to drop the gun behind a wooden fence. He is raising his arms and appears to be empty-handed as the officer fires a single shot, the Times’s analysis shows.

People gather near the alley where Adam Toledo was killed.Credit…Carlos Javier Ortiz for The New York Times

The footage angered and saddened many community leaders, who said it was a reminder more attention needed to be paid to the Hispanic victims of excessive force by the police.

At a barbershop in Little Village, a Hispanic mother of four said she watched the police video earlier in the day, but that after living in the neighborhood for so many years, she said she was numb to the violence.

“There won’t be rioting,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. “People don’t do that here. We’re used to this.”

But at another shop nearby, Dalia Ojeda had a different view. Ms. Ojeda, who works at Princess Paradise, a quinceanera boutique, watched the police video, but said she was not angry at the officer.

“I’m sad that the kid made a choice, and it ended his life,” she said.

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April 15, 2021, 10:47 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 10:47 p.m. ET

The New York Times

Hundreds of demonstrators assembled outside the Brooklyn Center, Minn., police station Thursday night, protesting the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a police officer. They created memorials on nearby sidewalks and boarded up buildings.

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April 15, 2021, 10:19 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 10:19 p.m. ET
Protesters at the Brooklyn Center police station on Thursday night.
Protesters at the Brooklyn Center police station on Thursday night.Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Mayor Mike Elliott of Brooklyn Center, Minn., announced a 10 p.m. curfew for the fifth night in a row on Thursday, in an effort to disperse demonstrators who have gathered to protest the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by a local police officer.

Hundreds of people had assembled outside the police station by mid-evening, including some throwing objects as motorcyclists revved their engines. Some protesters used umbrellas to shield themselves from the police. Some rattled the fence outside the station.

Umbrellas on a fence outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

All over the protest site, activists deposited wooden planks to be used as shields. Boxes full of potential projectiles littered the street in front of the police station.

Police officers were stationed on the roof of the police station, including some carrying what appeared to be canisters of tear gas. Additional security, including a second set of fences set up to separate protesters from officers, had been installed, and there were barriers on the streets leading to the police station.

Nearby, activists projected “Black Lives Matter” onto the exterior of an apartment building.

At earlier protests this week, the police responded with tear gas after protesters lobbed water bottles and other projectiles and declared the protests unlawful.

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April 15, 2021, 10:00 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 10:00 p.m. ET

The New York Times

Demonstrators gathered in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Thursday, holding signs of protest and leaving flowers around the barricaded police station.

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April 15, 2021, 9:32 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 9:32 p.m. ET
A woman stands in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Thursday.
A woman stands in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Thursday.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Daunte Wright’s death brought hundreds of people to protest outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Minnesota on Thursday night, but fresh on many people’s minds was another police killing nearly 400 miles away.

A Chicago police officer’s killing of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old who had dropped a gun and raised his empty hands as he was shot last month, fueled the frustration of many in the crowd, who said that the release of body camera footage had made them even more resolute in their activism.

Some protesters chanted Adam Toledo’s name.

“The 13-year-old, the 20-year-old, that’s a life — that’s a human life,” said Mercedes Thomas, who works with a Minneapolis organization that helps mothers with basic needs. Mr. Wright was 20 when a Brooklyn Center police officer fatally shot him on Sunday after officials said she mistakenly reached for her handgun instead of her Taser.

“We’re not standing for it,” said Ms. Thomas. “We’re exercising that right to protest. Anything peaceful, we’re here for it.”

Even as they felt more motivated to show up after the video of the Chicago shooting was released, some protesters in Minnesota also said the continuing police killings made them feel hopeless at times.

“I feel like stuck,” said Alycia Harris of Minneapolis, who attended the protest with two friends. “We can only do so much before it becomes something that the government has to deal with.”

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April 15, 2021, 9:32 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 9:32 p.m. ET
People gather at the entrance of the alley where Chicago Police shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo.
People gather at the entrance of the alley where Chicago Police shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo.Credit…Carlos Javier Ortiz for The New York Times

Chicago was tense but peaceful on Thursday evening as a small group of mourners gathered in the alley where Adam Toledo was shot on the city’s West Side, lighting candles and placing flowers at a small roadside memorial.

“It really hurts seeing this,” said Sergio Montano, 20, who said he was a friend of Adam’s. “I guess you can say it’s PTSD and I try not to think about it. I won’t ever come back to this spot.”

On Thursday, Chicago officials released footage from body-worn cameras showing the shooting by the police last month.

In the early-morning hours of March 29, two officers were responding to reports of gunfire when they saw two people in an alley and started to chase them. Prosecutors said that Adam, a 13-year-old seventh grader at Gary Elementary School, was holding a gun when he ran down the alley as an officer commanded him to stop and drop the weapon.

In an analysis of the video footage by The New York Times, Adam is raising his arms and appears to be empty-handed as an officer fires the single shot. In the moment before the shooting, the Times’s analysis shows, Adam can be seen holding what appears to be a gun behind his back, which he drops behind a wooden fence just before he raises his hands.

At the vigil on Thursday evening, local television news cameras were set up nearby, but there was no visible police presence. A couple passing motorists honked in support. Down the street, a woman was having a garage sale.

Downtown, often the center of protest activity, police cars with blue lights activated were parked along North Michigan Avenue just before 7 p.m., and windows were boarded up at an AT&T store. Large city trucks were parked near Chicago River bridges, which were lifted during unrest last summer but were filled with cars on Thursday.

Activists gathered at Millennium Park in Chicago to protest the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Credit…Carlos Javier Ortiz for The New York Times

A large office building was boarding up its street-level windows. So was a Verizon store and a nearby bar. “Chicago businesses are boarding up and the city is deploying garbage and water trucks to use as a blockade on wheels,” Gregory Pratt, a reporter with The Chicago Tribune, wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

But most of the city’s shopping district looked almost normal: Pedestrians carrying shopping bags. Uncovered glass windows. Slow-moving traffic. Still, Chicagoans were grieving, and many spoke angrily about what the body camera footage showed.

“He was told to stop. He stopped. He was told to raise his hands. He raised his hands,” Alderman Andre Vasquez said in a statement. “Adam Toledo, a scared kid, complied with those instructions, and he was still shot by police even though his hands were in the air.”

Alderman George Cardenas, who represents the Little Village neighborhood where Adam lived and was fatally shot, said, “The very institutions that serve to guide and protect children like Adam failed him, we failed him.”

Azi Paybarah contributed reporting.

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April 15, 2021, 8:54 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 8:54 p.m. ET
Protesters hung air fresheners from the fence in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
Protesters hung air fresheners from the fence in front of the police station in Brooklyn Center, Minn.Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Dangling from a fence outside the Brooklyn Center, Minn., police station is an unlikely symbol of protest and grief: dozens of colorful air fresheners, the type generally hung by motorists from their rearview mirrors.

The symbolism is unmistakable: Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man fatally shot by a white police officer this week, had told his mother that air fresheners were the reason he had been stopped in the first place.

“He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror,” Katie Wright, who spoke to her son by phone shortly before he was killed, told reporters this week. The police have said they stopped Mr. Wright because of an expired vehicle registration.

The grim memorial has grown over several days.

Officials in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, anticipating a fifth night of protests on Thursday, erected jersey barriers and additional fencing in strategic locations, making it impossible for protesters to reach the sidewalk next to the police station that has been the site of demonstrations all week.

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April 15, 2021, 7:51 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 7:51 p.m. ET
In Chicago, demonstrators on Thursday carried a Spanish-language banner demanding that the Police Department “stop killing our sons” after video footage of Adam Toledo’s death was released.Credit…Tyler Lariviere/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press

American cities, already on edge waiting for a verdict in the murder trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin, prepared for renewed protests on Thursday after Chicago officials released video of a 13-year-old boy who was fatally shot by the police.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago called for “calm and, importantly, peace” on Thursday as she described what she called an “excruciating” video of Adam Toledo, 13, being shot by a police officer last month. In Minneapolis, National Guard soldiers roamed downtown as Mr. Chauvin’s defense rested its case on Thursday. And in nearby Brooklyn Center, the police braced for a fifth night of protests following the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, by a white police officer.

In Chicago, community leaders called for protests on Thursday night in Millennium Park and in Little Village, the predominantly Latino neighborhood where Adam Toledo was shot on March 29.

People walk with flags in downtown Chicago against the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.Credit…Carlos Javier Ortiz for The New York Times

Last summer, George Floyd’s arrest, recorded by bystanders, and punctuated by his yelling for his mother as officers knelt on him for more than nine minutes, became a clarion call for action across the country, stirring the nation’s biggest protests since the civil rights era. They led to curfews throughout the United States, including in Los Angeles and New York, as well as sporadic violence and rioting in a nation already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois urged protesters to remain peaceful and Chicago to deliver justice for the family of Adam Toledo, who was Latino and killed by a white officer. He said Adam was part of a line of lives “lost to brutal acts of racial injustice” that included Laquan McDonald, Breonna Taylor, Mr. Floyd and Sandra Bland.

“In the midst of the trial of Derek Chauvin and the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, Chicago has come to face the shocking fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo,” he said, adding, “The evidence shows that we are dealing with a system of justice that isn’t being applied equally — and we need to change that.”

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April 15, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ET
Judge Peter A. Cahill said the length of deliberations is in the hands of the jurors, who must come to unanimous decisions.
Judge Peter A. Cahill said the length of deliberations is in the hands of the jurors, who must come to unanimous decisions.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Before Judge Peter A. Cahill sent jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial home on Thursday, he gave them short and vague instructions on what they might need to pack for deliberations next week.

“If I were you, I would plan for long and hope for short,” he said. “Basically, it’s up to the jury how long you deliberate, how long you need to come to a unanimous decision on any count. And so because that’s entirely up to you — whether it’s an hour or a week — it’s entirely within your province.”

After jurors hear closing arguments from both sides and receive further instructions from the judge on Monday, they will seclude themselves for deliberations, where they are tasked with coming to a unanimous verdict based on the evidence and arguments presented in court.

The jury will remain sequestered in a hotel, ideally secluded from outside influences, until reaching a verdict. If the jury is hung, or cannot reach a decision on one or more charges, the judge may declare a mistrial.

During deliberation, the jury will have access to the evidence and exhibits that were presented in court. On Thursday, Judge Cahill said that jurors would be given laptop computers to view the video that had been presented.

So how long could the deliberations take? It could be minutes, hours, days or weeks.

Eric Anderson, senior trial counsel at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae in California and a former prosecutor, said that jury deliberation lengths vary widely.

“There’s no way of telling how long this will take, particularly when I think that the jurors will try to do the right thing, whatever they think that is,” he said. “And to get to the right thing, they’re going to want to look very closely at the evidence. They’re going to want to look closely at every possible angle.”

It took a jury in Chicago less than eight hours in 2018 to convict Jason Van Dyke, a former Chicago police officer, of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in the death of Laquan McDonald, a Black teenager who was carrying a knife but heading away from the police.

In the case of Mohamed Noor, the former Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk in 2017, jurors took 11 hours to reach a verdict, MPR News reported. They found him guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter but not second-degree murder.

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April 15, 2021, 4:35 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 4:35 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

After this afternoon’s brief on-the-record session about the jury instructions, Judge Peter Cahill has recessed the court for a long weekend. He promised the lawyers he would get them a draft of the instructions by tomorrow morning, so they can consult them as they craft their closing arguments, which will take place on Monday. The case will then go to the jury.

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April 15, 2021, 4:18 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 4:18 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

On Monday, the judge will read the jury instructions being discussed now aloud to the jury. Each side’s proposed version is 13 pages long. These arguments — about things like exactly how to define assault — sound really technical, but of course each side is arguing for the instructions that would best support its own case.

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April 15, 2021, 4:14 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 4:14 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Speaking for the prosecution by phone is Sundeep Iyer, a lawyer in private practice who has been working behind the scenes on motions for the prosecution. Iyer was a clerk for two Supreme Court justices, Stephen Breyer and David Souter, as well as a third, Brett Kavanaugh, before he joined the top court.

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April 15, 2021, 4:06 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 4:06 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The jury instructions, being discussed now outside the hearing of the jurors, are really important because they help the jurors navigate key issues during deliberations, such as how to weigh cause of death when there might be multiple factors, and how to evaluate the actions of police officers. (They are told to put themselves in the moment and not to use the benefit of hindsight.)

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April 15, 2021, 4:11 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 4:11 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

For example, on the second-degree murder charge that Derek Chauvin faces, the jury will be told that Chauvin is liable if his actions were a “substantial causal factor” of George Floyd’s death, but not if a there is a “superseding cause,” defined as something that comes after the defendant’s acts, alters the natural sequence of events, and produces a result that would not otherwise have occurred. Minnesota has guidelines for instructions, but each side can argue for changes. When the lawyers say “CRIMJIG,” they’re talking about the guidelines.

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April 15, 2021, 3:52 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 3:52 p.m. ET

Scott Dodd

The court just sent out an email to reporters to say they will be back in session and on the record at 3 p.m. local time. Earlier today, the judge said court would be in recess until Monday.

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April 15, 2021, 4:03 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 4:03 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

After court recessed this morning, the lawyers went into the judge’s chambers to discuss the instructions that Judge Peter A. Cahill will give to the jury next week after closing arguments, before deliberations begin. We expect the court now to put at least part of that discussion on the record.

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April 15, 2021, 3:09 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 3:09 p.m. ET
Philonise Floyd, center, the brother of George Floyd, passes through security upon arrival at the Hennepin County Government Center earlier this month.
Philonise Floyd, center, the brother of George Floyd, passes through security upon arrival at the Hennepin County Government Center earlier this month.Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

With a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin set to come as early as next week, the city of Minneapolis is already preparing for protests and civil unrest. The plan, which includes nine state and local agencies, called Operation Safety Net, is one of the biggest in the state’s history, likely only trailing the response to the 2007 collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge and the protests after George Floyd died in May.

While National Guard troops are already patrolling downtown Minneapolis, where the trial is going on, more are on call. And security has been ramped up, with additional barriers placed near the courthouse and streets surrounding police precincts being closed.

The mission of Operation Safety Net “is to preserve and protect lawful First Amendment non-violent protests and demonstrations,” Scott Wasserman, a public information officer for the group, said in an interview. “They will work to prevent large-scale violent civil disturbances, assaultive actions, property damage, fires, and looting to government buildings, businesses, and critical infrastructure.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • National Guard: More than 3,000 members of the Minnesota guard have been called up and are already working in the Twin Cities and metropolitan area. There are more on standby if needed.

  • Street closures: Streets around some police precincts, which were targeted last year, have been shut. If necessary, there will be more closings.

  • Curfews: While much of the metropolitan area was under curfews during the worst of the protests last year, there are no plans yet for a curfew after the verdict. The decision to set one will likely fall to the city of Minneapolis.

  • Local law enforcement: More than 1,100 officers from agencies including the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office, Minneapolis Police Department and other local agencies are part of the mission. About 450 of them are from the Minnesota State Patrol. More are on standby if needed.

  • Briefings: Officials, including the Gov. Tim Walz and others will lead briefings as necessary.

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April 15, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ET
Black Lives Matter initials, written in chalk on the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center, on Thursday.
Black Lives Matter initials, written in chalk on the plaza outside the Hennepin County Government Center, on Thursday.Credit…Jim Mone/Associated Press

The presentation of evidence in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, concluded on Thursday without testimony from Mr. Chauvin himself.

Lawyers will give their concluding arguments on Monday, and then the jury will begin its own deliberations. Whether Mr. Chauvin would testify was a major question in this trial, one of the most-viewed in decades. Though the death of Mr. Floyd sparked a national reckoning around the intersection of race and policing — and ignited a wave of protests that rocked big cities and small towns across America — the public has heard very little from the former officer.

Throughout the trial, Mr. Chauvin displayed little, if any, emotion. (With a face mask, it can be more difficult to see a person’s expressions.) He listened and took notes as people who watched the arrest in person broke down in tears on the stand, and as numerous expert witnesses from the prosecution placed the blame of Mr. Floyd’s death squarely on his shoulders.

Mr. Chauvin’s defense team called two expert witnesses to the stand this week, along with a handful of other witnesses, most of whom spoke only briefly. A use-of-force expert testified that he acted within the bounds of normal policing when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and a medical expert said the restraint was not a contributing factor in Mr. Floyd’s death.

Both witnesses faced dogged cross-examination from prosecuting attorneys. And on Thursday, prosecutors called back to the stand Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who refuted a notion pushed by the defense’s medical expert that carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death. Here are the takeaways from Mr. Chauvin’s defense.

  • Mr. Chauvin told the judge on Thursday that he would not testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. He faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges for the death of Mr. Floyd. Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s attorney, said they had several discussions about whether he should testify, including one lengthy meeting on Wednesday. Judge Peter A. Cahill told Mr. Chauvin that the jurors would be instructed to not hold his decision to avoid testifying against him.

  • Prosecutors called Dr. Tobin, the pulmonologist, back to the stand on Thursday to rebut the notion that vehicle exhaust contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death. One of the two expert witnesses from the defense, Dr. David Fowler, a former chief medical examiner of Maryland, testified on Wednesday that carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the police cruiser that Mr. Floyd was pinned next to might have been a contributing factor. He placed more emphasis on drug use and pre-existing heart conditions, saying there were likely many factors at play. Ultimately, he said Mr. Floyd’s manner of death was “undetermined.”

    Dr. Tobin said the carbon monoxide argument was “simply wrong.” He said tests performed by Hennepin County showed that Mr. Floyd had a normal level of oxygen saturation in his blood, and that his level of carboxyhemoglobin — something formed in the blood during by carbon monoxide poisoning — could not have been more than 2 percent; Dr. Fowler said it might have been as high as 10 to 18 percent, though he acknowledged he had not seen any tests to confirm his assumption.

  • One of Dr. Fowler’s primary assertions was that the prone position where Mr. Floyd was kept for nine and a half minutes was safe. He cited several studies to support this notion, and said there was no hard evidence that putting someone in a prone position with their hands cuffed behind their backs for an extended period of time could be dangerous. Some prosecution witnesses criticized the studies that Dr. Fowler cited, saying they do not reflect real-world policing. They also said that it is well-known among police officers that suspects should not be kept in the prone position for too long because it can make it harder to breathe, particularly when the suspect is being pinned down under the weight of an officer. In a win for the prosecution, Dr. Fowler said Mr. Floyd should have been given medical aid.

  • The other primary witness from the defense was Barry Brodd, an expert on the use of force whose testimony contradicted that of several witnesses called by the prosecution, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department. Mr. Brodd testified that the officers who arrested Mr. Floyd had acted appropriately every step of the way, and even said that the restraint used by Mr. Chauvin did not constitute a “use of force” at all.

    During cross-examination, though, he conceded that the restraint did qualify as a use of force under the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department. He also said that the prone position does not typically hurt suspects and that it was an accepted way to control someone during an arrest. But he faced tough cross-examination on this point, when a prosecutor played body camera footage from the arrest which captured Mr. Floyd saying, “Everything hurts,” and crying out in pain. Mr. Brodd said that he had heard these exclamations during his review of the tapes, but that he didn’t “note it.”

  • While the two expert witnesses gave testimony that supported Mr. Chauvin, it is unclear what impact they will have on jurors. Cross-examination from prosecutors was effective in that it drew some concessions from both witnesses on the stand. And the defense was less thorough than the prosecution. The prosecution called several medical specialists to the stand, including a cardiologist and a pulmonologist, and allowed its experts to walk through the arrest moment by moment, identifying key points and breaking down the video tapes in meticulous detail. The defense witnesses spoke more broadly, and appeared less knowledgeable about the particulars of the arrest.

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April 15, 2021, 2:07 p.m. ETApril 15, 2021, 2:07 p.m. ET
Memorials to George Floyd near where he was arrested. Some activists in Minneapolis said watching the murder trial of Derek Chauvin was “exhausting.”Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

By the time George Floyd died in May, Leslie Redmond was a veteran of protests in Minneapolis. In 2015, she was one of the people who occupied a police precinct for 18 days. In 2020, she was the leader of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., organizing marches and meeting with community leaders.

But even though she is accustomed to standing up for what she believes in, Ms. Redmond said it was difficult to watch the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who is charged with murdering Mr. Floyd.

“Here we are in 2021, waiting to see if we get justice,” she said, referring to other cases in Minneapolis in which police officers have been acquitted in the death of Black men. “I was exhausted last May. You can only imagine how exhausted I am now. It is unbearable. I constantly get emotional.”

Ms. Redmond, 29, said she was focused on using her new organization, Don’t Complain, Activate, to help heal a community that has been repeatedly traumatized, especially these past few weeks while having to rewatch Mr. Floyd’s death over and over during the trial.

Less-experienced activists, many spurred to act for the first time after Mr. Floyd’s death, are feeling the same exhaustion as Ms. Redmond. In nearby Minnetonka, Minn., Ahlaam Abdulwali, 17, says she has seen little change in her mostly white school district after presenting officials with a 10-page document describing racist experiences in September.

“The murder of George Floyd showed me I can’t depend on others for change,” said Ms. Abdulwali, who is Somali-American and Muslim. “At this point, almost a year later, trying to pressure the school district, and nothing has changed. It’s a disappointment.”

For Rafael Forbush, who founded the Multiracial Jewish Association of Minnesota after Mr. Floyd’s death, the last year has been challenging. At first, larger Jewish organizations rarely responded to calls to discuss the issues of racism and anti-Semitism that Jews of color face, Mr. Forbush, 35, said. Now, almost a year later, they are more receptive. But the feeling of despair sometimes sets in, he says.

This past week has shown us how tiring, how exhausting this work is, even if we feel we have made progress,” said Mr. Forbush, who identifies himself as half Black. “It makes it so much more difficult, and feels like we haven’t done anything. The last year has been exhausting. Minneapolis being under the international spotlight hasn’t made it easier.”

While downtown Minneapolis, especially near the courthouse, has been heavily fortified during Mr. Chauvin’s trial, with National Guard troops patrolling the streets every night, there have been few protests there this week. Instead, protesters have descended on Brooklyn Center, a suburb where a white police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright, a Black man, on Sunday.

Ms. Redmond said she has prayer and reflection sessions planned for Saturday as part of her new foundation. And if there are calls for protests because of an acquittal, she said she will join them. But for now, she is focused on healing after a year in which Minneapolis has been under the world’s gaze.

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