Community members gather in Aurora as trial opens for officer charged in George Floyd’s death

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin accused of second-degree murder and manslaughter

Jessie Crowe, an organizer for the Students for a Democratic Society group, speaks to a small crowd gathered outside the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Aurora on March 8, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

A small group of community members gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Aurora as the sun set on Monday night to show solidarity with the people of Minneapolis as the jury trial gets underway for the officer involved in George Floyd’s death in May.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter for kneeling on 46-year-old George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. Opening arguments for the trial are expected to begin on March 29.

A statue of Martin Luther King Jr. outside the Aurora Public Library on March 8, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

The jury selection for the trial was delayed on Monday by District Judge Peter Cahill in order to resolve an appeals decision to dismiss a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, according to USAToday. The selection is expected to occur on Tuesday.

The small gathering in Aurora, which was organized by the Denver chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society, took place at the same time as a planned vigil at what is now referred to as George Floyd Square, the memorial site of where Floyd took his final breaths in Minneapolis.

Jessie Crowe, an organizer of the event and a student at the University of Colorado Denver, spoke to the small crowd about the trauma of white policing in Black communities.

A member of the Black Hammer organization, an activist group calling for land reparations, listens to a speaker during a gathering to honor George Floyd in Aurora on March 8, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

“Police are infiltrating and over-funded in every aspect of our school,” said Crowe, who is studying psychology and ethnic studies after spending 10 years serving in the military. “We must hold all police and administrators accountable for the negative action on behalf of their implicit biases.”

After a brief moment of silence to honor Floyd’s life, members of the Black Hammer organization, an activist group, took turns speaking about colonialism, Black power and liberation, and land back reparations. They criticized the organizers of the event, saying the group was not a part of the Aurora community and that efforts to defund the police don’t address what they see as the deeper issue: colonization.

Members of the Black Hammer organization, an activist group, speak to a small crowd gathered outside the MLK Library in Aurora on March 8, 2020. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)

Members of the Black Hammer organization hosted a vigil for people who died of COVID-19 in late January in the same location, according to Denver7. During the event, the group distributed KN-95 masks, warm clothes and food to those that attended.

“So I hope I taught you a little bit of history, about why y’all got to work harder to destroy this white identity, this European identity,” said one unidentified speaker. “I say this because I want freedom. And I say this because I’m tired of the circular protests that y’all are preparing for for the summer.” 

“I want the end of colonialism. I want the end of imperialism,” the member said. “I want the end of capitalism. If y’all are really about the revolution, we have to stop tackling symptoms and go for the head.”