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Medical Examiner testifies restraint on Floyd ‘tipped him over the edge’ toward death

Plus: Walk-out at White Bear Lake High School after Black students receive racist threats via Instagram; Klobuchar pushes feds to prioritize infrastructure spending on failing bridges; West St. Paul says Black Lives Matter mural violates city code; and more. 

For MPR News, Jon Collins, Riham Feshir, Brandt Williams and Matt Sepic report: “The actions of Minneapolis police to restrain and subdue George Floyd as officers arrested him ‘tipped him over the edge’ from life to death, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker testified Friday in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. … Baker, who conducted the autopsy on Floyd’s body, ruled the man’s death a homicide last year … Baker’s report also identified ‘hypertensive heart disease,’ ‘fentanyl intoxication’ and ‘recent methamphetamine use’ as other ‘significant conditions.’ On Friday, he stood by his findings and described Floyd’s health problems and the drugs in his system as contributing — not direct — causes of his death.”

A trio of New York Times reporters write: “In a trial where many key figures have spent hours on the stand, the prosecution whipped through one of their most anticipated witnesses, the doctor who performed George Floyd’s official autopsy, in a mere 50 minutes on Friday. The reasons for their haste became clear as the witness, Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner, refrained from placing the sole blame for Mr. Floyd’s death on the police as he testified in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former officer charged with murder. In his testimony, Dr. Baker said police restraint was the main cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, but he also cited drug use and heart disease as contributing factors, saying that Mr. Floyd died “in the context of” the actions taken by three police officers as they pinned Mr. Floyd to the street for more than nine minutes.”

In the Pioneer Press, Josh Verges writes: “White Bear Lake Area High School students walked out of school Friday morning after multiple Black students received racist threats from an anonymous Instagram account. Screenshots posted online indicate the sender was a fellow student who used the app’s group chat feature to target members of a school club for Black students. The messages contained death threats and repeated use of the N-word. … The walkout at 10 a.m. Friday had the support of the school, which said students would not be disciplined for demonstrating or protesting.”

For the Star Tribune, Susan Du writes: “Ryan Weyandt, a West St. Paul resident and founder of LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, commissioned a vibrant ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural for his wooden fence last summer. Now, after it became something of a local landmark, the city of West St. Paul says it must be removed because it violates code. … The city didn’t take action right away because state law allows signs of any size during election season. … Recognizing that it would be difficult to repaint in the winter, the city gave Weyandt an extension until April 15. … Weyandt said he hasn’t yet decided what to do.”

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Also in the Pioneer Press, Dave Orrick writes: “Evoking the tragedy of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is making a push for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to prioritize federal funding to repair the nation’s — and Minnesota’s — failing bridges. … Her push comes as fellow Democrat President Joe Biden and his allies seek support for Biden’s $2 trillion ‘American Jobs Plan,’ a massive infrastructure spending proposal that seeks to rebuild some 10,000 bridges across the nation, among other public works ambitions.”

For MPR, Dan Gunderson writes: “Fifteen years ago, 145 members of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe were fluent in the language. As those numbers have dwindled, the impact of each loss compounds. That’s why the numbers of elders lost to the pandemic at Mille Lacs has been devastating to Baabiitaw Boyd. .… Boyd has worked for about 15 years to preserve language and culture among the people of the Mille Lacs Band, where she is the tribal government’s commissioner of administration. Some of the elders lost to COVID-19 carried generations of knowledge about language and culture. Boyd believes transferring that knowledge to future generations is critical to the very survival of the Ojibwe people.”

KSTP-TV’s Kylie Brown writes: A 25-year-old Hawaiian monk seal who joined the Minnesota Zoo in 2015 has died, the zoo announced Friday. Paki was brought to the Minnesota Zoo as part of a cohort of five rescued, non-releasable Hawaiian monk seals who were already 20 years old, which is considered senior age for their species. … According to the zoo, the Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world. It is estimated that there are fewer than 1,400 remaining in the wild.”