Justice or not, black youth in Minneapolis with no illusions about their police

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“His conviction will not change anything”: In the icy streets of Minneapolis, the outcome of the George Floyd death trial gives African Americans little hope of improving their relations with the police.

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“It’s been going on for so long, it’s like we can’t change it, especially being so deep in poverty: too deep to make a difference,” said Marquevion Rapp, a 22-year-old African-American student, about the long list of black people who have died as a result of police in Minneapolis, and around that metropolis in the northern United States.

Wrapped up in his jacket to protect himself from the cold Minnesota wind, Marquevion Rapp says he has already been arrested several times. He asks the police to be “more open-minded” and to show “more patience” in the performance of their duties.

For him, even if the police officer Derek Chauvin is condemned, that “will not change anything”.


“Very low expectations”

“I try not to expect anything from it,” he says, while the jurors have been deliberating since Monday evening.

A sentiment echoed by Ambrose Haynes, a 32-year-old African-American computer scientist, sitting waiting for his bus on one of the main open streets of Minneapolis, a city characteristic of the American Midwest.

“I have very low expectations for this trial,” he said.

But, in the event of a conviction, “maybe we will trust the police a little more, we will be a little more grateful”, because it is “a tough job, they put their lives on the line”.

Daunte Wright, a 22-year-old African-American boy, was killed by a white policewoman during an ordinary traffic stop in the suburbs of Minneapolis on April 11, less than a year after the death of George Floyd. His name was added to the list of 208 people killed by police in Minnesota since 2000, according to the count from the local daily Star-Tribune.


“Oil on fire”

Among these victims, Philando Castile is one of the best known. A police officer shot him seven times, also at close range, during a traffic stop in 2016.

In 2017, Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer, was acquitted by a jury.

In his neat garden in a typical American suburb, about thirty kilometers from Minneapolis, Clarence Castile talks about his nephew, but also the deaths that followed, and how to bridge the gap with the police, him who joined the St. Paul City Police Reserve after Philando’s death.

When asked what has changed since the latter’s death, he answers laconically: “Honestly? Nothing. Black people are still dying ”.

According to Clarence Castile, despite millions of dollars in police training, “you still have people dying because of the police, and who shouldn’t be dead.”

As for his nephew, he fears the absence of conviction for Derek Chauvin, who could “add fuel to the fire” of the demonstrations.


“We pray that this does not happen because we do not want to tear our city apart, but we need our elected officials and our prosecutors to do their job better so that these (police) are accountable,” he says.

For him, the question of how to bridge the gap with the police is “complicated”, but what is certain is that “it cannot be them against us”.

“I pray that will happen. In my lifetime? I do not know (…). But this is something that must happen if we are to continue to have a civilized human species ”.

Clarence Castile also warns of the risk of “a civil war, or something, who knows? “

“People are at their wit’s end and are fed up with being at their ends.”