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Eyewitnesses to Floyd’s death open first day of testimony in Chauvin trial

Plus: Bush Foundation pledges $100 million to close racial wealth gaps; one killed and one injured in Dinkytown shooting; Hennepin County sees record number of fatal overdoses from opioids or methamphetamines in 2020; and more.

In this courtroom sketch, witness Alisha Oyler shows footage she filmed as she testifies in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
In this courtroom sketch, witness Alisha Oyler shows footage she filmed as she testifies in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

In the Star Tribune, Rochelle Olson, Paul Walsh and Chao Xiong write: “Ten months after George Floyd died, prosecutors and the defense clashed Monday over fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s role in the death, beginning a trial that stands to become a watershed moment in the nation’s debate over policing and use of force against Black suspects. … On the first day of testimony in Chauvin’s trial, jurors heard opening statements from both sides and listened to testimony from a 911 operator, gas station employee and sidewalk bystander who tried to intervene. They also saw several excruciating videos and images of the moments leading up to Floyd’s death in police custody.

For The Guardian, Oliver Laughland says, “Opening arguments made clear the prosecution will call an array of witnesses; from the bystanders who watched Floyd die, to the medical examiner who concluded his death was a homicide; from use-of-force experts to Medaria Arradondo, the chief of the Minneapolis police department, which fired Chauvin. It underlines not only the weight of evidence against Chauvin but also the intention to frame him as an officer who, as Blackwell said, ‘betrayed’ his badge. … for the prosecution at least, this trial is about the actions of one man and not America’s criminal justice system at large, despite the eyes of the world being on this case as a bellwether for racial justice and police brutality.

For MPR, Brandt Williams, Jon Collins and Riham Feshir say, “A key prosecution witness in the Derek Chauvin trial returns Tuesday for more questioning about what he saw and why his mixed martial arts training convinced him the technique Chauvin was using to pin George Floyd to the pavement was deliberate and dangerous. Donald Williams, 33, became one of the most vocal bystanders on the street last May 25 outside Cup Foods in south Minneapolis as officers restrained Floyd while arresting him. On Monday, Williams testified that as he came upon the scene, he heard Floyd “speaking in a distressed way,” telling the officers that everything hurt, calling for his mother and saying he was ‘sorry for what he did.’”

Bob Shaw writes in the Pioneer Press: “The Bush Foundation is allocating $100 million to close the wealth gap between whites and Blacks and Native Americans — a move with similarities to race-based reparations. The St. Paul-based foundation has set up trust funds for Black and Native Americans in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and 23 Native nations. ‘This is not reparations, but it’s in the spirit of reparations,’ said Grantmaking Director Jackie Statum Allen. The money will be paid to individuals for developing their wealth — in such ways as financing a college education, making a down payment on a house, or providing seed money to start a business.”

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WCCO-TV reports: ”A shooting late Monday night near the University of Minnesota left one man dead and another in the hospital. The Minneapolis Police Department says the shooting happened shortly after 11 p.m. on the 400 block of 13th Avenue Southeast, in the heart of Dinkytown. The University of Minnesota sent out of an alert after the shooting, telling students to stay away from the area as police investigated.”

David Chanen writes in the Star Tribune: “A record number of Hennepin County residents fatally overdosed from opioids or methamphetamines last year, with an alarming spike in deaths from fentanyl, a powerful synthetic painkiller that can be lethal even in tiny doses. Hennepin County recorded 285 opioid-related deaths for the year, with nearly all involving at least trace amounts of fentanyl. That is up from 170 opioid deaths the year before. Methamphetamine overdoses reached a record 116 in the county last year.

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “No fooling, but come Thursday — April 1 — the St. Paul City Council plans to approve, amend and rescind city laws more efficiently and allow for more transparency. … Under a new schedule unveiled this week, the council will hear most ordinances just three times. A full staff report, if required, will be presented to the council on the first week, instead of the third or fourth week. And, the public hearing will be held the second week, with a final vote likely the third week, unless the council calls for more time.”

At Newsweek, Jason Lemon writes, “Mike Lindell, the staunchly pro-Trump CEO of MyPillow, insisted in a recent interview that former President Donald Trump will be back in the White House by August. … in Friday comments on the War Room: Pandemic podcast, which is hosted by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, Lindell claimed he has been collecting evidence that will soon be brought before the Supreme Court. ‘What I’m talking about Steve is what I have been doing since January 9th. All of the evidence I have, everything that is going to go before the Supreme Court and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye,’ Lindell claimed.”