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Opening statements given in Chauvin trial; first witness called

Plus: study finds little transmission of COVID-19 by vaccinated people; the state of police reform in Minneapolis; GOP legislators wants Minnesota counties to secede, join South Dakota; and more.

Fences shown in front of the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis.
Fences shown in front of the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis.
MinnPost photo by Lorie Shaull

Both sides start to make their cases. The Star Tribune’s Paul Walsh, Chao Xiong and Rochelle Olson report:Attorneys in the Derek Chauvin murder trial on Monday made their case before jurors who will decide the fired Minneapolis police officer’s fate in the killing of George Floyd 10 months ago. … An opening statement from prosecutor Jerry Blackwell began shortly before 9:40 a.m. in front of a global livestream audience in downtown Minneapolis in the heavily guarded Hennepin County Government Center and explained how the state will prove that Chauvin killed Floyd and should convicted of murder and manslaughter. … Nearly an hour later, defense attorney Eric Nelson followed with his opening statement and declared that Chauvin acted precisely as his training taught him. … Blackwell began by explaining how Minneapolis officers take an oath to respect the sanctity of life, to not use excessive force and to accept the public trust that comes with the badge they wear.”

Some good vaccine news. Also in the Star Tribune, Jeremy Olson reports:A federal study with support from Duluth, Minn. researchers has tracked the first two COVID-19 vaccines approved in the U.S. and found that they were 90% effective in real-world conditions and prevented asymptomatic infections. … Clinical trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines only looked at prevention of symptomatic infections, so the latest study of their effectiveness in health care and emergency medical workers is a significant advance, said Dr. Harmony Tyner, an infectious disease specialist at St. Luke’s Regional Health Care System in Duluth.”

The New York Times on the state of police reform in Minneapolis. John Eligon and Tim Arango report: “Ten months ago, Minneapolis, and the country, seemed to coalesce around the belief that policing needed an overhaul after gruesome video footage surfaced of the last moments of Mr. Floyd’s life. Now, with the murder trial of the officer who knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck scheduled to begin on Monday, the struggle over what to overhaul and how to do it has left Minneapolis at war with itself over public safety and the role of the police.

There was a time when Republicans fought against secession. The AP reports (via WCCO):A Republican Minnesota state representative is proposing legislation that would let Minnesota counties secede from the state and join border states. … Rep. Jeremy Munson, of Lake Crystal, introduced the bill Thursday and tweeted out an image promoting a union with South Dakota. It shows nearly every county west of the Twin Cities metro as part of a newly imagined South Dakota. … ‘Minnesota becomes more politically polarized every year and the metro politicians have shown us that rural Minnesotans are no longer represented by St Paul. It’s time to leave,’ read a webpage on Munson’s campaign website.”

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In other news…

Big march on Sunday:Photos: Hundreds gather for ‘Stop Asian Hate’ rally in St. Paul” [MPR]

A look at  Chauvin jury:The jurors who will decide Derek Chauvin’s fate” [Washington Post]

They’re only human … services:Report: Minnesota Department of Human Services failed to meet legal guidelines for grant management” [Brainerd Dispatch]

Aww:Orphaned bears get new lease on life in remote area of northwest Minnesota” [Fargo Forum]

After being mostly closed last year:Isle Royale starts reopening April 16” [Duluth News Tribune]

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