MINNEAPOLIS – Bishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis on March 6 prayed for peace and justice during the upcoming trial of a former white city policeman in the death of George Floyd, an African American, while he was in custody at view.
He met with more than 100 other religious leaders in a plaza in downtown Minneapolis.
“God of love, you are the source of all that is good in our lives,” Archbishop Hebda said in the gathering’s opening prayer. “And so, we come to you with grateful hearts, grateful for the gifts you have bestowed upon those gathered here. Grateful for the projects you have for our cities. Grateful for the way you are going to bless us beyond anything we can imagine.
“We come to you today as a people thirsty for justice, but we also hunger for peace.”
Jury selection was due to begin on March 8 in the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, but legal complications have delayed it as the issue of an additional murder charge for Chauvin remains unresolved.
He pleaded not guilty to two counts: unintentional second degree murder and second degree manslaughter. A third charge of third degree murder was dismissed in October, but an appeals court ruled that the trial judge should reconsider a request for reinstatement.
With security fencing as a backdrop to the North Square of the Hennepin County Government Center, where Chauvin’s trial will be held, and with a sign reading “Pray for MN” behind the podium and speakers, the rally religious leaders was organized under tension. felt across the Twin Cities.
Floyd’s arrest on May 25, part of which was filmed by a passer-by and shared on social media, sparked protests and riots in the Twin Cities and across the country.
Chauvin was shown during the arrest putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes as Floyd, handcuffed and face down, begged to breathe and then fell unconscious. He was pronounced dead in hospital.
Floyd had been charged with attempting to pass off counterfeit $ 20 to buy cigarettes.
Chauvin was fired after the incident. Three of his colleagues were also fired and will face a joint trial on August 23 for complicity in second degree murder and manslaughter. The four defendants are on bail.
In addition to the prayer rally, Archbishop Hebda released a video and a statement on March 5 asking for prayers throughout Chauvin’s trial.
“Whether you can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes, let us pledge to pray every day for peace in our communities, peace for the Floyd family, and peace for our first responder siblings who work to protect us. Please join me also in praying for an end to the scourge of racism in our country, ”the Archbishop said in the video and in his statement, both posted on the Archdiocese’s website, https: // www .archspm.org.
By Joe Ruff, Catholic Information Service
Ruff is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Spirit, a newspaper for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.