Friday, September 17, 2021

Chauvin Juror Defends Participation in 2020’s ‘March on Washington: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’ Protest (Watch)

*One of the jurors who convicted Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd is defending his attendance at the 2020 March on Washington following online speculation about his motives for serving on the jury and whether it might be grounds for appeal.

A photo, posted on social media, shows Brandon Mitchell, who is Black, attending the Aug. 28 event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Floyd’s brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, and relatives of others who have been shot by police were also in attendance and spoke to the crowd. That photo recently recirculated online, showing Mitchell standing with two cousins and wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King and the words, “GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS” and “BLM,” for Black Lives Matter.

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Brandon Mitchell photographed at the 2020 March on Washington rally

Mitchell, 31, acknowledged being at the event and that his uncle posted the photo, but said he doesn’t recall wearing or owning the shirt. Mitchell was one of 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He’s the first juror to go public, and spoke to several media outlets last week, including The Associated Press.

“I’d never been to D.C.,” Mitchell said of his reasons for attending the event. “The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”

Mitchell said he answered “no” to two questions about demonstrations on the questionnaire sent out before jury selection. The first question asked: “Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?” The second asked: “Other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”

Mitchell told Nelson during jury selection that he had a “very favorable” opinion of Black Lives Matter, that he knew some police officers at his gym who are “great guys,” and that he felt neutral about Blue Lives Matter, a pro-police group. He also said he had watched clips of bystander video of Floyd being pinned and had wondered why three other officers at the scene didn’t intervene. He said he could be neutral at trial.

Mitchell told the Star Tribune that last summer’s protest was “100% not” a march for Floyd. “It was directly related to MLK’s March on Washington from the ’60s … The date of the March on Washington is the date … It was literally called the anniversary of the March on Washington,” he said.

Watch Mitchell’s full “GMA” interview about the controversy below:

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