Updated: February 25, 2021 10:22 PM
Created: February 25, 2021 05:17 PM
Community activists from more than a half-dozen groups in the Twin Cities raised their voices outside the Hennepin County Government Center Thursday afternoon, united in a message wanting justice for George Floyd.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin faces criminal charges in Floyd’s death in a trial that’s scheduled to start on Monday, March 8, in Hennepin County Court in Minneapolis.
The community groups revealed that they will protest as close to the Hennepin County Government Center as they can on that morning, starting at 8 a.m.
"We are screaming justice for us, our humanity, this is a human right's issue — this is more than just a civil rights issue,” Angela Rose Myers, Minneapolis NAACP president, said.
The community organizers who met Thursday said the trial is part of a bigger issue to bring systemic change. They addressed nearly 10 bills currently filed at the Minnesota Legislature on police reform, including better civilian review of incidents, greater access to body camera footage and liability insurance for officers.
Minneapolis city leaders announced on Wednesday that two spaces will be reserved for protesters outside, on the north and south side of the Hennepin County Government Center, but specific details including how big that space will be or proximity to the building have not been disclosed.
“We are not here to prohibit justice from happening,” Myers said. “We are not here to hinder justice… we are here to deliver justice."
At other areas around the Government Plaza, you can see barbed wire, fences and concrete barricades that Hennepin County officials said have been set up to make sure the trial is not interrupted, but added their plans also included protecting First Amendment rights outside the trial.
Community organizers that spoke said the safety measures set up send a different message to those wanting to gather at the government center.
"How dare they put up fences, how dare they put up razor wire, how dare they put up plywood — to keep us out — we have a First Amendment protected right to criticize our government, and that includes police," said Michelle Gross, with Communities United Against Police Brutality. "We will be everywhere, they will not be able to stop us."
Minneapolis city officials said plans are underway to “fortify” other city-owned buildings in the coming days.
Sixth Street South, between Third and Fourth avenues, will close to vehicle traffic on Monday. That stretch of road runs under the Hennepin County Government Center.
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