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Police officer charged with killing of George Floyd appears in court

Members of the party knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds before a sitting of Congress today.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin
Image: AP/PA Images

THE POLICE OFFICER charged the murder of George Floyd, the African-American man whose death sparked protests across the US, has appeared in court for the first time.

Derek Chauvin appeared by video from Minnesota state prison to face charges of one count of second degree murder, one count of third degree murder, and one count of manslaughter.

The 44-year-old, one of four officers charged in relation to the killing, was filmed pressing his knee on handcuffed Floyd’s neck until he passed out two weeks ago today.

In a procedural hearing that did not require Chauvin to submit a plea, the judge in the Hennepin County District Court set his bail at $1 million with conditions, and $1.25 million without conditions.

Those conditions would require him to surrender his firearms, not work in law enforcement or security in any capacity, and have no contact with the family of Floyd.

Earlier, US Democrats held a moment of silence in Washington DC, reading the names of Floyd and others killed during police interactions.

Members of the party knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds — now a symbol of police brutality and violence, as the length of time prosecutors say Floyd was pinned under Chauvin’s knee before he died.

The 46-year-old African-American’s death two weeks ago has sparked nationwide protests and led to a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement both in the US and elsewhere.

Democrats have proposed a sweeping overhaul of police oversight and procedures as part of an ambitious legislative response to the mass protests across the US.

“We cannot settle for anything less than transformative structural change,” said House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Justice in Policing Act would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police choke holds, among other changes, according to an early draft.

A long-sought federal anti-lynching bill stalled in Congress is also included in the package.

However, it stops short of calls by activists to “defund the police”, a push to dismantle or reduce financial resources to police departments that has struck new intensity in the protests since Floyd’s death.

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It is unclear if law enforcement and the powerful police unions will back any of the proposed changes or if congressional Republicans will join the effort.

Last night, councillors in Minneapolis pledged to dismantle and rebuild the police department in response to Floyd’s death.

Contains reporting from© AFP 2020.

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