UPDATE: Religious leaders in Minnesota pray for peace and justice in Floyd trial

MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) – Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis prayed on March 7 for peace and justice during the upcoming trial of a former white city policeman accused of the death of George Floyd, an African American. He died in police custody last May.

The Archbishop 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 scheduled to begin March 8 in the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, but legal complications delayed it by a day as the issue of an additional murder charge for Chauvin was pending. suspense.

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.

On March 11, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill allowed prosecutors to reinstate a third degree murder charge against Chauvin, which the judge said was not applicable in this case.

In light of a ruling on a third degree murder charge in a separate case in February and at the request of prosecutors, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ordered Cahill to consider reinstating him. On March 10, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied a request by Chauvin’s attorney to review the appeals court decision, paving the way for Cahill’s decision.

The rally of religious leaders on March 7 was staged under the tension felt in the Twin Cities. Their backdrop was a security fence in the northern plaza of the Hennepin County government center, where Chauvin’s trial will be held. A sign reading “Pray for MN” was visible behind the podium and the speakers.

Floyd’s arrest on May 25, part of which was filmed by a passerby 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 nearly 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 sisters and brothers who are working 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.

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Ruff is editor-in-chief of The Catholic Spirit, a newspaper for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

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