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One charge against Chauvin dropped, will face trial on second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter

Plus: trucker who drove into George Floyd protest faces two charges; public transit ridership cratered amid pandemic; hotel stays helped homeless find permanent housing; and more.

Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Hennepin County Jail

Trial going forward. The Star Tribune’s Chao Xiong reports: “A judge on Thursday dropped a lower-level murder charge against the former Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, but kept a higher-level murder count against him and also ruled that the cases against three other former officers will not be dropped. … Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill dismissed a third-degree murder count against Derek Chauvin, but ruled that he will remain charged with one count each of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. … The development prompted Gov. Tim Walz to issue an executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard to provide “public safety services and security assistance” if needed.”

Also related to the George Floyd case … The Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson reports: “The trucker who was attacked after driving into a massive protest on the Interstate 35W bridge following the killing of George Floyd was charged Thursday with two criminal counts from the May 31 incident. … Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office charged 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko of Otsego with threats of violence, a felony, and criminal vehicular operation, a gross misdemeanor, saying the driver admitted to investigators that he was ‘kind of in a hurry’ and the investigation showed he sought to ‘scare’ the protesters out of his path.

Not exactly surprising. KSTP’s Tom Hauser reports: “The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on public transit in the Twin Cities. … Look no further than the North Star commuter rail line for proof. According to Metro Transit, ridership is down 96% since last March when the pandemic was declared. To put that into perspective: in April 2019, there were 65,532 riders. In April 2020, the number of riders plunged to 1,352— a 97.9% decrease. It got even worse in May, dropping from 72,130 riders in 2019 to 1,158 in May 2020, a 98.4% decrease. The numbers have only slightly rebounded in August (down 97%) and September (down 96%).”

Interesting finding. MPR’s Faye Williams reports: “In March, Hennepin County moved people, especially those most vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19, from congregate shelters into private rooms in five hotels. The plan was to reduce crowding and protect people most at risk. … There was another benefit. … According to officials working to end homelessness in Hennepin County, 56 people have moved into permanent housing since the start of the hotel efforts.

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In other news…

Mining for votes:On Minnesota copper mining issues, Trump position is clear while Biden is mum” [Star Tribune]

New voting method:New Accessibility Resources Available For Minnesota Voters With Disabilities” [WCCO]

Get your spot:Target’s new holiday safety measures includes reservation system” [KARE]

Lots of material for Dylan fans here:Inside Bob Dylan’s Lost Interviews and Unseen Letters” [Rolling Stone]