FARGO — Dozens of Fargo-Moorhead metro residents are expected to join a rally to demand justice for George Floyd this weekend.
The Justice for George Floyd Solidarity Rally will be outside a branch office of the Fargo Police Department on 13th Avenue South and 25th Street starting at noon on Sunday, March 7, according to organizers and an event on Facebook.
The weekend of "national calls to action" rallies and marches across the country are not only to make a plea for justice for Floyd, who was died after being pinned to the ground during a May 25 arrest with a knee pressed on his neck by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, but also for the "families of others affected by police brutality," said Clara Derby.
Derby is a member of the local group called the Red River People Over Profits Initiative, which is sponsoring the rally, and she said several people plan to speak at the event.
The nationwide weekend rallies precede Chauvin's trial, which starts with jury selection on Monday, March 8, in downtown Minneapolis. The jury selection is expected to take a few weeks, with the trial's opening statements scheduled to begin March 29.
Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd cried out that he couldn't breathe after he was arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Chauvin and three other officers at the scene were fired the next day and charged the next week. The other three officers go on trial together in August.
"We want to stand in solidarity with the people in Minneapolis," Derby said. "We also want it to be known that the whole world is watching and hoping that justice prevails."
Derby said she was becoming a bit "nervous" as the trial gets underway but is hopeful for a guilty verdict.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. A Hennepin County District Court Judge dropped a third-degree murder charge last fall, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Friday, March 5, that the trial judge was wrong to refuse reinstating that charge.
Wes Philome, leader and organizer of the social justice group One Fargo, said he's going to Minneapolis to join in the rally and activities there outside the courthouse as the trial gets underway on Monday.
"I have a high degree of skepticism that justice will be served. I'd be surprised if it was, but if it is I feel it'll be a step in the right direction for the country and people of color," he said.
As evidenced by the rally planned in Fargo on Sunday, he said, "people care about it and are connected to it."
Media coverage, interest and reaction to the trial could approach the level of the O.J. Simpson murder trial in the 1990s, Philome said.