One of the jurors in the trial against Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd defended himself against critics who pointed out his participation in a protest in Washington, D.C. last summer. This revelation led to speculation about his motives as a juror online. Lawyers for Chauvin immediately called for the verdict to be thrown out and a new trial to be held.

A photo of juror Brandon Mitchell with two cousins and wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King and the words, “GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS” and “BLM,” for Black Lives Matter resurfaced on the internet. In the photo, Mitchell is attending the Aug. 28 event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Floyd’s brother and sister, Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, and relatives of others who have been shot by police spoke at the gathering.

Mitchell acknowledged the photo and confirmed that he attended the event. He said he does not recall wearing or owning the t-shirt.

“I’d never been to D.C.,” Mitchell said. “The opportunity to go to D.C., the opportunity to be around thousands and thousands of Black people; I just thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of something.”

Mitchell was one of 12 jurors who convicted Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Mitchell was the first to go public and speak to the press.

Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney not involved in the case, told reporters the photo alone wasn’t enough to overturn Chauvin’s conviction, but it could be combined with other issues in an appeal to say Chauvin was denied a fair trial.

Mitchell said he was asked two questions about demonstrations before jury selection. The first being, “did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?” The second was “other than what you have already described above, have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”

He said he answered no to both questions. He said he thought favorably about Black Lives Matter and neutral about Blue Lives Matter. He said he watched clips of what happened to George Floyd and said he could be neutral in a trial.

Mitchell told the Star Tribune that last summer’s march was “100% not” a march for Floyd.

“It was directly related to MLK’s March on Washington from the ’60s … The date of the March on Washington is the date … It was literally called the anniversary of the March on Washington,” he said.

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