Protesters Chant 'Convict Killer Cops' Outside As Jury Selection for George Floyd Trial Begins

Protesters waved signs demanding "Justice for George Floyd" and to "Convict Killer Cops" as jury selection began Monday in the trial of ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the highly fortified downtown Minneapolis courthouse where the voir dire process began in Chauvin's trial, one of four ex-officers involved in Floyd's May 2020 death. The process inside the courthouse was put on hold as prosecutors sought to add a third-degree murder charge to the case, but protests carried on outside. Massive banners proclaimed "the world is watching" and demanded Chauvin's conviction on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. Speakers ranged from civil rights activists to the surviving relatives of Black men who were killed by police officers in other parts of the country.

Multiple signs expressed solidarity with Floyd's family and also called for action to be taken against three other ex-police officers who appeared in the video which depicted Floyd's death. Barbed wire and National Guard troops surrounded the beefed up courthouse security.

minneapolis police flip off protester
A protester flips off a police car outside the Hennepin County Government Center after the first day of jury selection began in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin who is accused of killing Floyd, March 8, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. - Jury selection was delayed on Monday, March 8 in the high-profile trial of white police officer Derek Chauvin accused of killing George Floyd, a Black man whose death was captured on video and sparked mass protests against racial injustice in the United States and around the world. As hundreds of protesters gathered near a heavily guarded Minneapolis courthouse, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ordered jury selection put off until at least Tuesday. CHANDAN KHANNA / Contributor/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

As the judge and attorneys convened high above in an 18th-floor courtroom — with jury selection almost immediately stalling over the state's effort to add a third-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin — organizer DJ Hooker lamented the concrete barriers, chain-link fencing, barbed wire and razor wire that has gone up around the courthouse, along with National Guard troops and police standing guard behind.

"We ain't in that cage over there. What do they call it, the First Amendment zone? The Freedom Zone, I call it a cage," said Hooker, an organizer with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, which was formed after the 2015 death of Jamar Clark in a confrontation with Minneapolis police. "Look what they did to our beautiful downtown. They turned this into a war zone."

Sam Martinez, an organizer with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, said organizers plan similar protests for dates that coincide with significant points in Chauvin's trial, including opening statements, closing arguments and the verdict.

He said he expects the biggest turnout to be on the day of the verdict.

"When the people know that there needs to be justice, they'll come out," Martinez said. "We trust in the people, we know they'll back us up."

Judge Peter Cahill initially ruled that jury selection would begin as scheduled, but after prosecutors asked the Court of Appeals to put the case on hold, the judge sent the potential jurors home for the day and the rest of the day was spent ruling on motions. Cahill later said jury selection would resume Tuesday barring an order from the appellate court.

There was no indication when that court will rule, but a hold could delay Chauvin's trial for weeks.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to dismiss 16 of the first 50 jurors they reviewed "for cause" based on their answers to a lengthy questionnaire. These dismissals weren't debated in court, but can happen for a host of reasons, such as views that indicate a juror can't be impartial.