George Floyd or Derek Chauvin Trial? Here's What Activists Want it to Be Called

The trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, got underway with the lengthy process of jury selection beginning this week.

Floyd's name became a rallying cry for protesters against police brutality and racial injustice after his death in May 2020. Chauvin, who is white, was filmed kneeling on the Black man's neck for more than eight minutes as he gasped that he couldn't breathe.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. A third-degree murder count remains under review.

As jury selection proceeds, activists, advocates and organizations have hit back at references to Chauvin's trial in headlines as the "George Floyd trial."

Earlier this week, Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing the Floyd family, took to Twitter to explain why.

George Floyd is NOT on trial; Derek Chauvin is!

Some will use the "DEREK CHAUVIN TRIAL" to question George Floyd's character.

That's WRONG. Demand JUSTICE. pic.twitter.com/gWUr0DF2wr

— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) March 8, 2021

He tweeted a photo that included a headline from the website TMZ and the words: "The 'Derek Chauvin trial' starts today, NOT the 'George Floyd trial'."

In the tweet, Crump wrote: "George Floyd is NOT on trial; Derek Chauvin is! Some will use the 'DEREK CHAUVIN TRIAL' to question George Floyd's character. That's WRONG. Demand JUSTICE."

In another tweet, he added: "George Floyd was put 'on trial' for 8 minutes and 46 seconds with Derek Chauvin as judge, jury AND executioner. #ChauvinTrial."

Crump's office has been contacted for additional comment.

Others echoed Crump's sentiment. Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., wrote a tweet Tuesday that repeated "#DerekChauvin is on trial" six times. "Not George Floyd," she added.

#DerekChauvin is on trial. #DerekChauvin is on trial. #DerekChauvin is on trial. #DerekChauvin is on trial. #DerekChauvin is on trial. #DerekChauvin is on trial.

Not George Floyd.

— Be A King (@BerniceKing) March 9, 2021

News cycle we are about to requires this reminder. The Derek Chauvin trial is about to start. This is not the George Floyd trial. The man whose breath was squeezed out or his body is not on trial. There are other ways to honor his name beyond giving him this erroneous headline

— Michele Norris (@michele_norris) March 8, 2021

Michele Norris, a journalist and the founder of The Race Card Project, tweeted: "News cycle we are about to requires this reminder. The Derek Chauvin trial is about to start. This is not the George Floyd trial.

"The man whose breath was squeezed out or his body is not on trial. There are other ways to honor his name beyond giving him this erroneous headline."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also explained the need for the distinction.

"Don't call this the George Floyd trial. George Floyd wasn't even charged. He was lynched on the street," the organization tweeted. "This is the Derek Chauvin trial and we are demanding justice for George."

Don’t call this the George Floyd trial. George Floyd wasn’t even charged. He was lynched on the street.

This is the Derek Chauvin trial and we are demanding justice for George.

— ACLU (@ACLU) March 9, 2021

In an op-ed for The Boston Globe, columnist Renée Graham also explained why media outlets calling it the "George Floyd trial" was an issue.

"For those of us with more of a sense of dread than a sense of justice in America, this is not an accident. It's not even subtle," Graham wrote.

Graham quoted the Rev. Emmett G. Price III as saying: "That is how the underpinning of white supremacist ideology, and its progeny racism, works in these subtle ways to subvert the narrative. By calling it 'the George Floyd trial,' you swap the seats in the courtroom. That's very intentional."

Graham added: "Floyd is not the defendant. That distinction belongs solely to the man accused of murdering him."

Protest outside Hennepin County Government Center
A demonstrator holds a portrait of George Floyd outside the Hennepin County Government Center on March 9, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images