Protesters returned to the streets on the evening of March 8 to demand justice for the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, marking the start of the trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin — the man seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, killing him, in the now infamous bystander video.

At 6 p.m. that evening, a coalition of organizations hosted a solidarity march and car caravan at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago, the same day jury selection was scheduled for Chauvin’s trial. The organizers came from Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR), Black Lives Matter-Chicago, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), GoodKids MadCity (GKMC), Arab American Action Network, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Democratic Socialists of America and others. 

A flyer of tonight's movement action to demand justice for the murder of George Floyd, marking the start of the trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

The stated demands for the action, according to a press release shared by CAARPR, are:

* That all four cops who murdered George Floyd be charged and convicted;

* To see real police accountability through all-elected Civilian Police Accountability Councils (CPACs), establishing community control of the police, shifting police funding to essential public services such as education, housing and healthcare and regulating police to address the real demands for safety of the people; and

* Freedom for all survivors of police torture and wrongful convictions.

Although reports on the morning of March 8 said that jury selection was being delayed pending the addition of a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin on top of the established second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, CAARPR field organizer Frank Chapman said there were no plans to reschedule the evening’s action.

“We are taking our leadership from our people up in Minneapolis, and they say don’t stop any protests,” Chapman said. CAARPR is a chapter of the larger National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which has chapters in 16 cities nationwide including Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Dallas, Seattle and more. 

“We have protests like these planned across the country throughout the entire trial. Just like we did with the Jason Van Dyke case,” Chapman said. 

In 2014, Chicago Police Department (CPD) Officer Jason Van Dyke murdered 17-year old Laquan McDonald in a video that was covered up by leading Chicago officials including then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez and former CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy. 

Van Dyke was the first Chicago police officer to be found guilty of murder for an on-duty shooting in 50 years. He was sentenced to nearly seven years for being convicted of second-degree murder in the McDonald case. He’s currently serving his sentence at an unnamed prison in Maryland.

Minneapolis police Officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane also assisted Chauvin in restraining Floyd, but the charges in the murder are only being brought against Chauvin. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will be leading the prosecution against Chauvin.

“The Attorney General, himself, is prosecuting this case, and that’s only because the people got on the streets and protested,” Chapman said. “We’re lighting that fire under people. I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful that we’ll get the CPAC/GAPA ordinance through city council as soon as possible.”

CAARPR has been leading the fight to push the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) ordinance through Chicago’s City Council. The organization joined forces with Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) to get their combined ordinance passed.

The CPAC/GAPA ordinance demands a civilian elected board of commissioners in charge of police oversight and accountability.

The March 8 action in Chicago was a continuation of last summer’s uprisings which were ignited in late May 2020 by the video of Floyd’s murder going viral, as well as the murder of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and the subsequent grand jury decision in the case of her murder not to charge officers. Chapman led a rally and march in Bronzeville the night a Louisville grand jury failed to charge anyone with her death. 

In 2020, Chicago saw hundreds of actions between May and September, raising public consciousness of the #DefundCPD and abolition movements.

Also related

is a staff writer with The TRiiBE. Email him with news tips.