Speakers at a prayer service on the eve of opening statements in the Derek Chauvin murder and manslaughter trial urged peace, unity and justice for George Floyd.
"My brother didn't ask for this," Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, said at a news conference before the Sunday night vigil. "I didn't ask to be a part of this fraternity that nobody wants to be a part of. I think about my brother every day and every night. I think about his kids."
Floyd urged observers to focus on the bystander video taken of his brother's final breaths, as he asked for a conviction.
"I have faith that he will get convicted. Just like everybody who's seen that video because the video is the proof," he said.
The vigil at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis began with gospel music and dance. But as Pastor Billy G. Russell began to speak, a heckler interrupted. She was escorted out to cheers as Russell prayed for "peaceful and effective protests."
The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network, called for accountability.
"We must show with this case that a police officer must face the law just like anybody else," he said. Philonise Floyd also urged unity, saying there's only one race, the human race. "It's not Black versus white, it's not Asian versus white, it's not anything like that," he said. "People of color need to learn how to live with each other and love each other."
Earlier Sunday, leaders of a protest in downtown Minneapolis demanded justice for George Floyd.
Speaker after speaker at the rally between the Hennepin County Government Center and City Hall urged participants to protest for the convictions of Chauvin and former officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng. They also asked protesters to fight for charges to be dropped against hundreds of protesters arrested since last summer, ending qualified immunity for police, and "systemic change."
"We all saw the video! … What do you all think? Think he's guilty?" D.J. Hooker, a Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar organizer, asked the crowd of about 150, which responded, "Guilty, guilty, guilty!"
Hooker welcomed supporters to what he called "the war zone," saying Minneapolis used to have a downtown people could use but now it's a fortress of security, with fencing, concrete and barbed wire. Hooker and others said they're not afraid to be disruptive.
"They thought it was a joke right? They don't take our chants serious, right? No justice, no peace. We meant that," he said.
Organizers promoted a petition for community control of the Minneapolis The protest was peaceful, but a couple protesters parked their cars on the light-rail tracks, blocking train traffic through Government Plaza station.
"We shut down trains and light rails all the time, just wait," Monique Cullers-Doty called when a light rail conductor asked protesters to vacate the tracks. Cullers-Doty is the aunt of Marcus Golden, who was killed by St. Paul Police in 2015.
The march ended after about an hour as protesters circled back to the Government Center and ziptied posters to the security fence separating them from armed National Guard.
At 38th and Chicago, also known as George Floyd Square, self-identified anarchists and anti-fascists with the organization Minnesota Uprising Arrestee Support planned a workshop on avoiding arrest and keeping calm in custody. Protesters who declared the intersection was not a public street demanded journalists leave the square shortly before it began.
firstname.lastname@example.org • 612-673-4028 email@example.com • 612-673-4495