The world took a front-row seat to the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday, as the state's first-ever courtroom video livestream gave an intimate view of a case that has fractured the nation.
For many Minnesotans, re-watching video of George Floyd struggling for his final breaths under Chauvin's knee revived feelings of trauma and invoked the unease of a riot-damaged Twin Cities becoming the epicenter of debate on racial equity.
"This image will remain in a lot of people's mind," said Abdulkadir Noor, 38, who on Monday morning was at the 1st Cup Cafe located in the shopping center across from the burned-down Minneapolis Police Third Precinct building, as several people glanced at the news during their morning coffee runs.
Noor said he didn't like that the trial was televised and added that he thinks the court proceedings will trigger pain in people traumatized by the video that went viral last summer.
At Trinity Apartments in south Minneapolis, 51-year-old resident Cheri Lopez started to watch the trial in the morning until the prosecution began to play the video during opening statements.
"I thought that him with his knee on his neck was too violent," she said. "That's why I shut it off."
Others went about their day and said they were withholding judgment until a verdict is reached at the end of trial, expected to last weeks.
Duane Giese, of Watertown, ran into an Eden Prairie gas station over his lunch hour and said people need to try to see both sides of the case before coming to a conclusion instead of being ruled by their emotions.
"More people should be looking at the whole picture — both sides of the coin," said Giese, 52. "There's a lot of variables to the story, and what you hear might not be true. I'm trying to hear both sides. That's how you judge a person on their guilt."
With opening statements, viewers got their first look into the strategies of the defense and prosecution to paint contrasting pictures of the circumstances surrounding Floyd's death. They could also see the faces and hear the words of witnesses including a bystander with wrestling and martial arts experience and a 911 dispatcher who reported to a supervising sergeant that something didn't seem right as she watched real-time surveillance video on a screen in her office.
Many in the community were hesitant to talk about their views as the difficult topics of race and justice took center stage in the community, and the intensity of the trial weighed heavily on people's minds.
At Benedict's Morning Heroes in Wayzata, 27-year-old Naomi Ladd said the trial was amplifying the difficulty of expressing feelings about race.
As a Black woman, Ladd said, she sometimes feels like she has to hold back.
"When we walk out the door every day, it's something we have to challenge ourselves with being cordial about, not just this case but our own survival day by day, and how to voice it the proper way to others so they may not feel attacked by you expressing justice to your own life," Ladd said. "The trial just kind of amplifies that. You still can't say how you want to express yourself."
Earlier in the day, the Rev. Al Sharpton, George Floyd's family and civil rights attorneys gathered outside of the Hennepin County Courthouse and spoke about the gravity of the trial before they knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honor of Floyd, signifying the time that some observed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck.
"Today is the start of a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come on its quest for equality and justice for all," said attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd's family.
Crump reminded the crowd and those watching from home that Chauvin was the man on trial, not Floyd.
The day began and ended with protests outside the courthouse. About 300 people gathered in the evening to listen to speakers, including family members of people killed during interactions with police, and marched for justice on nearby streets.
A small group yelled at National Guard soldiers watching from behind fences surrounding barricaded government buildings.
Army veteran Samantha Pree-Stinson hung a thick rope of dog tags that represented Black, brown and Indigenous soldiers who lost their lives. She's lived in Minneapolis for 20 years, she said, and is taxed from stressing over the trial's outcome.
"I think we're going to see the same thing that happens every time, but I don't want to speak anything into existence," Pree-Stinson said.
Though other high-profile cases have been televised around the country, such as the O.J. Simpson trial more than 25 years ago, the power of social media has allowed more people to engage and comment in real time on the Chauvin trial.
"It gives everybody an insight of what goes on in a courtroom and how you have to get the evidence," said Charles Menifee, 50, as he watched the trial on a large television at the 8218 Truce Center in St. Paul where he mentors young people.
Menifee, who helps teenagers resolve conflicts and stay on the right track, said he often tells young Black men including his 10-year-old son that they need to follow instructions given by police to try to avoid deadly interactions.
"We know we are targeted. … We feel like we shouldn't have to [have these talks] but we have to because we are Black and we are being treated differently," Menifee said.
Some in the Twin Cities begrudgingly braced themselves for riots and further unrest after the case wraps up.
"I'm 100% concerned that if there's an acquittal, there's going to be a significant amount of rioting nationally if not internationally," said Brandt Grandy, 57, who was on a walk in Wayzata on Monday afternoon with his 19-year-old son Finn. "We're all connected through social media. The world is looking at the outcome of this. You really hope the legal system in our country is blind to ethnicity and skin color. We all hope that it is. We just don't know that it is. But it's time for it to be."
Staff writer Reid Forgrave contributed to this report.