Jitters Ahead of Jury Decision in Chauvin Trial as Cities Brace for Unrest

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Editor’s Note: Former Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in the death of George Floyd on Tuesday.

As the jury continues its deliberations on Tuesday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd last May, officials in many cities across the country are bracing for potential unrest and violence once a verdict is reached.

In the city of Minneapolis alone, some 3,000 National Guard troops are assembling to buttress the police department there, and public schools in the city have cancelled their in-classroom learning starting on Wednesday, The New York Post and others reported.

Meanwhile, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is coming under increased scrutiny for her calls over the weekend for protesters to “get confrontational” if the verdict in the case doesn’t go the way they want.

The California congresswoman traveled to Minnesota to join protesters in the street. GOP lawmakers have accused her of inciting violence and want her to apologize.

The judge in the Chauvin trial, District Judge Peter Cahill of Hennepin County, Minnesota, said on Monday that the congresswoman’s remarks potentially could lead to the entire case “being overturned.”

Cahill told defense attorney Eric Nelson, who asked for a mistrial because of those remarks, “I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.” He denied the motion for a mistrial, however.

Cahill also said, in part, according to numerous reports, “This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function … If they want to give their opinion, they should do so in a respectful … manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect a co-equal branch of government. Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent.”

The jury on Monday began its deliberations. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. If convicted of second-degree murder, Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison.

Related: People Healed, Saved at Intersection Where George Floyd Died

In closing arguments on Monday, the prosecution insisted that Chauvin “betrayed the badge and everything it stood for” in his actions last May against Floyd, who died in police custody.

The defense, by contrast, argued there were multiple factors in Floyd’s death, including drug use and a heart condition—and that Chauvin, who has since been fired from police work, used “reasonable force” in arresting Floyd.

Related: Pastors Urge Prayer as Outrage Grows Over Floyd’s Death

On Monday, Rep. Waters defended her earlier comments that protesters are “looking for a guilty verdict” and that people should “stay in the street and demand justice” if Chauvin is acquitted.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is seeking to formally condemn Waters for her remarks, but Waters is insisting she is “nonviolent.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) backed her Democratic colleague, saying in part, “No, I don’t think she should apologize.”

As this situation continues to unfold and as the jury continues its deliberations, see these tweets for more information and reaction.

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—By CNJ Staff

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