George Floyd: Americans react to Day One of the Chauvin trial

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All eyes are on Minnesota this week as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin gets underway.

Mr Chauvin faces two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, last May in Minneapolis.

Protesters crowded the streets in Mr Floyd's name in cities across the US and around the world over the summer.

An African-American political hopeful, a Minnesota resident and a retired police veteran shared their thoughts on Day One of the trial.

A community activist, an entrepreneur and a father of two, Curtis went viral last year for his impassioned message about the generational injustices African Americans have suffered. He is now running for city council in his hometown of Charlotte.

Tell me how you're feeling as you watch this trial.

Having to watch the details of what happened, having to watch the video over, having to relive the moment - it was hurtful. I'm still in awe and I can't believe it happened.

It pisses me off. We have some of the most horrific mass murderers of our time in custody without a scratch, but this black man who allegedly uses counterfeit $20 bill loses his life and loses it tragically.

They've got to convict the [former police officer]. If they don't convict him, it's going to be a problem.

What did you make of the opening arguments from the two legal teams?

The prosecution presented very good evidence. He was very detailed and said some things that I think will be really critical to the case. He reminded us of an officer's oath and said, despite all his training, this officer sat on someone's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

As for the defence, they're trying to make it seem like George Floyd was a drug addict and the opioids took his life.

We already know they [the county medical examiner's officer] deemed this a homicide. And we know that police officers are supposed to care for who is in their custody and they did not do that. They had no regard for George Floyd's life. Did he need to lose his life?

The officer came to a situation where he should have de-escalated and given out a ticket in the worst case scenario.

What impact do you think this trial will have?

I'm watching the case closely because I want to see what the outcome is going to be. Are we going to hold this officer accountable for his actions?

This is a chance for America to show exactly what they represent: giving everybody liberty and justice for all.

If you don't convict him of all three charges, you're simply telling black America and minority Americans that we do not care for you. This is a white America and you're going to get down or lay down. Now people are fighting for equality, but soon they'll be fighting for revenge.

Melissa is a mixed-race resident of the Minneapolis-St Paul area and a mother of two. With the trial unfolding 'in her backyard', she is keeping a close eye on it and hopes to see some accountability

Tell me how you're feeling as you watch this trial.

This trial is in our backyard, so I'm cautiously optimistic there will be some justice here.

There was rioting in St Paul [last year]. Buildings burned down. Businesses we frequented were permanently closed down. Our neighbourhood Trader Joe's [grocery store] was raided. That was all very concerning, but my current concern is a fair trial.

I think there needs to be some level of accountability for Chauvin. I have a lot of respect for the police but I do think some officers - although rare - take advantage of their authority and go too far.

What did you make of the opening statements from the two legal teams?

The defence is trying to make the case that the officer was just following his training. They are also saying there's no evidence of asphyxiation and that the actual cause of death was related to heart issues and drugs in his system.

He had pre-existing conditions that he lived with just fine until he was down on the ground with people on his back and neck for nine minutes, so I'm not sure it was those pre-existing conditions - and not the actions of the officers - that took his life.

What impact do you think this trial will have?

The United States as a country is much more aware of racial injustice and inequality for people of colour. We're much more "woke" than last year. That's been a big change and I think it's a permanent change in our culture.

I'm a bit concerned because we've been here before and I don't think things have gotten better in terms of the treatment of African Americans in the judicial system. I don't understand the nuances of the three different charges, but I hope Chauvin is found guilty of something because he needs to be held accountable for what he did.

A retired police lieutenant who spent 34 years on the force in two states, Randy trained law enforcement for over three decades and founded The Wounded Blue, a national organisation that assists injured and disabled officers.

Tell me how you're feeling as you watch this trial

If this was a normal trial - that is, there wasn't so much politics and emotion involved - I'd much rather be sitting at the defence's table than the prosecutor's table. The fact they charged Chauvin with three charges indicates that they are not confident in a conviction. They're throwing it against the wall and hoping that one will succeed in a conviction.

The issue is that there are so many sociological factors at play here and, whether or not you can get an entire jury to agree on a conviction is going to be a very large burden for the prosecution.

This is a watershed moment for law enforcement because of the actions that took place as a result of the death of George Floyd. We've already seen how this has affected law enforcement in so many ways, from the political environment to the violence towards police.

This is a highly charged and emotional case, so that is a huge hurdle for the defence. No use of force looks good. It is always ugly and controversial, but that doesn't mean it's not reasonable.

What did you make of the opening arguments from the two legal teams?

I found the opening arguments very interesting. The prosecution has signalled their strategy very clearly and that is to work on the emotions of the jurors. They did that by the initial playing of the video. Now the prosecution has the heavy burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that there was intent involved with his death.

The defence was prepared, coherent and easily understandable. There was no flashiness or flamboyance. It was meat and potatoes defence work. This was about explaining to laypeople the very complicated issue of the reasonableness of Chauvin's actions because that is going to be the linchpin of this case.

What took place on that day could have happened to any police officer in the country.

This all comes down to whether the actions of Chauvin were reasonable.

What impact do you think this trial will have?

This has already affected law enforcement in ways that will ripple through for decades. The entire parameters of use of force are being re-examined. The pullback of resources. The defunding aspects. The training aspects.

There is a crisis in law enforcement and it is barrelling towards us like a freight train. And that is de-policing, a lack of qualified applicants willing to enter the profession and the lack of retention of officers. You're seeing them quit and retire, and there's a huge learning curve in the confidence levels of law enforcement.

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