With the murder trial of Derek Chauvin set to begin this week in Minneapolis with jury selection, Black Lives Matter protesters hit the streets of New York Monday night to ensure the world remembers the name George Floyd and the knee that led to his death.
Chauvin is accused of putting that knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds on the night of May 25, 2020 during a incident on a Minneapolis street. Floyd’s death was recorded on camera and quickly went viral, setting off a wave of protests across the country.
Monday was just another day in what has become a year-long battle for justice for many of the over 200 protesters who assembled in Bryant Park on the evening of March 8; for others, it was a return to the fight after a cold winter hiatus.
Amidst the sea of megaphones and George Floyd signs, there was almost an atmosphere of reunion among activists as they hugged one another. Although the event began jovially, speakers swiftly reminded those in attendance that they had gathered for a serious matter.
“On March 29, 2021, opening statements will begin in the Derek Chauvin trial, and it is very intentional when I say, Derek Chauvin’s trial. This is not George Floyd’s trial. George Floyd did not commit murder, he was murdered! We are going to be outside and, on their f**king asses from start to finish. We are not just out here for George Floyd, we are out here for all Black Lives,” one protester exclaimed.
Before the march even got underway, protesters engaged in a face-off with NYPD officers who had wandered through the protest line. Police officials retreated in hopes of maintaining order.
Individuals flooded the roadway in front of Bryant Park, where a flurry of expletives were flung at the on-duty officers. After several minutes of high tensions, cooler heads prevailed, the situation diffused and no arrests were made.
At about 7:45 p.m., the march got underway proper with a deluge of protesters waving flags, brandishing signs condemning Chauvin, and chanting as they left Bryant Park and headed downtown. In addition to calling Floyd’s name to attention, marchers also made it known they were rallying for black women and transgender lives.
The protest proceeded unimpeded until the group reached 27th street where they invaded an outside dining area along Madison Avenue. The group surrounded diners with photos of Chauvin, heckling them for enjoying meals with one protester yelling: “Stop eating while my people are dying!”
An Asian patron pulled down her mask and responded, “What about my people?”
Members of NYPD swiftly responded, clearing out the alcove of the New York Life Insurance building. Again, no arrests were made.
Protesters spent several hours marching through the city streets and promised they will be keeping a close eye on the trial as it progresses. The trial of Chauvin was set to start on Monday but was delayed due to a debate of a possible reinstatement of a third-degree murder charge.