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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Analysis: A tapestry of testimony in the trial into George Floyd's death

Analysis: A tapestry of testimony in the trial into George Floyd's death

The trial into George Floyd's death was never going to be comfortable to watch. But trauma in the courtroom is mounting every day, projecting a compelling and tragic drama across America.

Eventually, the trial will narrow in on the question of whether police officer Derek Chauvin is guilty or not of murder or manslaughter after restraining Floyd with a knee to his neck for more than nine minutes last May.

But trials are also about the constructing of stories, as skillful lawyers build competing narratives surrounding alleged crimes, the backstory leading to the fateful moment and character sketches of those involved.

Testimony so far is creating a rich tapestry of daily life at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, where the notorious events unfolded. And the dignity and decency of a multi-racial group of witnesses — whom one prosecution lawyer "a veritable bouquet of humanity" — has created some of the most affecting moments yet: Videos showed witnesses pleading with Chauvin to let Floyd get up as he cried for his mother, or to call an ambulance after he lost consciousness.

Bystander Charles McMillan, a 61-year-old man who had appeared composed and confident on the stand was reduced to sobs as prosecutors played video of Floyd's arrest. McMillan had tried to convince Floyd to get into the police car before he was pinned down on the street. Store clerk Christopher Martin testified that he feels "guilt" because he wonders if he had not challenged a $20 bill Floyd used to buy cigarettes, the awful cycle of events could have been avoided.

Courteney Batya Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend, gave testimony about Floyd's life.


On Thursday, Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, struggled through her testimony, her face lighting up as she remembered how he loved to eat out, and then dissolving in tears as she recalled their shared struggle with opioid addiction.

Long after the verdict is in, these supporting players will continue to question whether they could have done more to save Floyd. In addition to its implications for justice and politics in America, the trial also reflects life here, its inequalities and cruelties leavened by citizens' humanity.

Play ball!


Baseball devotees love to wax about their sport being a metaphor for life.

They might be right this year as the crack of the bat rings more loudly than usual in socially-distanced ballparks.

A building wave of Covid-19 infections overshadowed Opening Day on Thursday. One game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets was postponed after a player posted a positive Covid-19 test, while at Yankee Stadium in New York, fans in a thin crowd had to show they were fully vaccinated or a post a negative Covid test before getting through the turnstiles. Still, seeing any fans in the seats after months of sports in empty stadiums with canned crowd noises was a relief.

The Toronto Blue Jays, who opened up against the Bronx Bombers, will be temporarily homeless however. With the US-Canada border closed and Covid raging in the True North, they'll be playing home games in Florida before a likely move to their minor league affiliate's stadium in Buffalo — just across the Niagara River from Canada.

Meanwhile, tension between the White House's pleas for Americans to show a little more patience and local officials rushing to reopen are playing out in the Lone Star state, as the Texas Rangers expect to welcome a full crowd to their first home game next week. President Joe Biden isn't happy, telling ESPN in an interview, that the decision was a "mistake" and the Rangers — once part owned by ex-President George W. Bush — ought to listen to Dr Anthony Fauci and other scientific experts.

Biden also said he'd support moving this year's baseball All Star Game out of Atlanta, as called for by civil rights groups to protest a discriminatory new voting law in Georgia. Major League Baseball's Commissioner Rob Manfred said the sport was always opposed to infringements of voting rights -- but he bunted on the question of whether the game should be moved, citing complicated logistics.

In Detroit, where the Tigers were playing Cleveland, the weather was more suited to snowballs than baseballs, and Motor City slugger Miguel Cabrera smashed his first home run of the season through a blizzard.

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