As the National Guard takes up positions across Minneapolis ahead of the Derek Chauvin verdict, Facebook has announced that it will be heavily moderating its platform to remove posts promoting civil unrest or violence in Minneapolis, according to Bloomberg.
The social media giant will remove posts that celebrate or praise the death of George Floyd - however there's no indication from the report that Facebook will be removing posts used to coordinate protests - some of which will undoubtedly become riots. The company considers Derek Chauvin a public figure, and George Floyd an 'involuntary public figure.'
Facebook will allow users to discuss the trial and attorneys, but will remove content which violates their policies on 'hate speech, bullying, graphic violence and incitement.' No word on whether they'll remove clips of Rep. Maxine Waters inciting a mob before members of the National Guard were injured in a weekend shooting.
Any pages, groups, events and Instagram accounts which violate their policies will be removed by teams of moderators who will be monitoring events to determine whether locations are considered high-risk.
On Monday, jurors are set to hear closing arguments before they begin deliberating over whether Chauvin, a white former police officer, caused the death of George Floyd after restraining him on the ground by kneeling on him for roughly nine minutes on May 25, 2020. Floyd, a 46-year-old black suspect who had a massive amount of drugs in his system, advanced heart disease, and COVID-19 at the time of his death.
Police were originally called to the scene after Floyd allegedly used counterfeit money to pay for cigarettes. Chauvin's attorneys have argued that he correctly followed training received during his 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department.
As Reuters notes, "Prosecutors have told the jury they are weighing the guilt of only one man, but their verdict will nonetheless be widely seen as a reckoning in the way the United States polices Black people."
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been raging across the country amid the trial.
The closest instance occurred just a few miles from the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis when a white police officer fatally shot a Black motorist, Daunte Wright, on April 11 in the suburb of Brooklyn Center after trying to arrest him on the belief he had missed a court appearance. The officer, Kimberly Potter, had meant to use her Tazer to stop him driving away but pulled out the wrong weapon, police say. She has been charged with manslaughter.
As angry protests swelled, Minneapolis and state officials have ramped up security precautions in the city. The tower in which the courtroom sits is ringed by barbed wire, high barriers and armed soldiers from the National Guard, and nearby businesses have boarded up their windows. Giant drab-colored military vehicles have become a common sight in city streets. -Reuters
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree "depraved mind" murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.
In order for the second-degree murder charge to stick, prosecutors will have to prove to the 12 jurors that Chauvin committed felony assault which resulted in Floyd's death - a crime which carries up to 40 years in prison, though the state's sentencing guidelines call for 15 years given Chauvin's clean record.