Ilhan Omar Says Derek Chauvin Trial Has ‘Unearthed So Much Trauma’ For Minneapolis

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Sunday that the trial of the former police officer who killed George Floyd has “unearthed so much trauma” for the residents of Minneapolis.

The congresswoman, whose district includes Minneapolis, told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” that watching Derek Chauvin’s trial the past week has been “retraumatizing.”

“It’s been really hard. I’ve tried to avoid watching. I know a lot of us here in Minneapolis have done that,” she said. “But it’s hard, right, you also want to know the details and want to hear from the witnesses.”

Chauvin’s trial will resume Monday after a week of emotional testimony from several witnesses, including teenagers, who were present at the time the white officer killed Floyd, a Black man, by kneeling on his neck during an arrest on May 25, 2020. Chauvin has been charged with second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutors presented new video footage at the trial that showed Floyd’s arrest from the different perspectives, as well as the aftermath. According to Chauvin’s body camera footage, the officer responded to one witness’s expressed concern about his decision to kneel on Floyd’s neck by saying, “That’s one person’s opinion. We gotta control this guy, he’s a sizable guy.” Witness Charles McMillian cried on the stand as the new videos were played in court.

Omar mentioned Sunday that viewers are learning important information from the trial, including that Chauvin actually kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 26 seconds ― longer than the previously believed eight minutes and 46 seconds. Minneapolis Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman testified that Chauvin’s actions were “totally unnecessary,” and retired Sgt. David Pleoger ― Chauvin’s supervisor at the time of Floyd’s death ― testified that Chauvin could have stopped severely restraining Floyd once he stopped resisting.

Some witnesses broke down in tears on the stand, saying they felt guilty after not being able to prevent Floyd from dying, watching him repeat that he couldn’t breathe and cry out for “Mama.” Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter at the scene of Floyd’s arrest, said officers prevented her from giving Floyd chest compressions and refused themselves to take his pulse. 

Christopher Martin, who worked at Cup Foods when Floyd came in that day, said he felt “disbelief” and “guilt” for reporting to his manager his suspicion that Floyd paid for cigarettes with a counterfeit bill. Chauvin and other officers arrived after a store employee called 911 about the possible counterfeit bill.

“I think the one part that sits with me is the fact that everyone who took the witness stand said they felt helpless. That is a feeling that we know really well here in Minneapolis when it comes to police abuse,” Omar said. “I remember feeling helpless 20 years ago, when I witnessed police officers unload three dozen rounds on a mentally ill Somali man in the street.”

Darnella Frazier, the 18-year-old who recorded a video of the arrest that went viral, testified that she stays up some nights “apologizing and apologizing” to Floyd for “not saving his life” ― but maintains that Chauvin bears responsibility for killing Floyd.

“It has just unearthed so much trauma for many of us,” Omar said. “But we have each other and we’re gonna get through it.”

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