Minneapolis Rep. Ilhan Omar said the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in George Floyd’s death, has been "retraumatizing" for her community.
"I mean, it’s been retraumatizing. It’s been really hard," Omar said on CNN’s "State of the Union." "I have tried to avoid watching. I know a lot of us here in Minneapolis have done that,"
Testimony began last week in the case. Witnesses testified about Floyd’s death, with one witness saying on Tuesday he saw Floyd "slowly fade away." Other witnesses recounted begging Chauvin to stop kneeling on Floyd’s neck and trying to intervene as the officer gave the crowd a “cold” and “heartless” stare.
"I think the one part that stayed with me is the fact that everyone who took the witness stand said they felt helpless," Omar said. "That is a feeling that we know really well here in Minneapolis when it comes to police abuse."
Omar said witnesses recounting Floyd’s death reminded her of her own experience 20 years ago, when "I witnessed police officers unload three dozen rounds" on a mentally ill member of the city’s Somali community "in the middle of the street." (Omar was likely referring to the case of Abu Kassim Jeilani, 28, who was shot to death by police on March 10, 2002, while carrying a machete down a city street.)
"It has just unearthed so much trauma for many of us, but we have each other, and we’re going to get through it," she said.
When asked about the possibility of the trial ending in a hung jury or a "not guilty" verdict, she said the Minneapolis community is on edge.
"We have seen justice not delivered in our community for many years," she said. "And I think that there is a lot of confidence in Attorney General Keith Ellison and the prosecutors in this case. But we are all eagerly awaiting to see how this trial shakes out."
She added that it was "horrendous" to watch Chauvin’s team "put Floyd on trial" instead of the officer.