We recently discussed the reckless rhetoric of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Cal., in Minnesota, including declaring that she and protesters would not accept an acquittal in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin. The comments came after days of rioting, looting, and other violence. The concern is that such rhetoric would inflame those already inclined toward violence, particularly given the gunfire directed at National Guardsman after her comments. Now it appears that protesters targeted one of the witnesses for the defense — an act that is clearly intimidating and retaliatory. It turns out the the home defaced was the former home of Barry Brodd, the retired police officer.
The Santa Rosa Police Department stated that the “suspects in this vandalism were targeting” Brodd for his testimony.
Protesters have been at the courthouse throughout the trial. Some of us have criticized the judge for not sequestering the jury, which includes at least one person who lives in or near Brooklyn Center, the scene of the recent shooting of Daunte Wright and renewed rioting.
I cannot imagine a greater basis for sequestering a jury. Indeed, I stated earlier that there was a strong basis for changing the venue of the Chauvin case. It is hard to see how the rioting and protests would not have a prejudicial impact on a jury.
Previously, the home of the prosecutor responsible for the manslaughter charge in the Wright case was also targeted by protesters. Earlier the county prosecutor involved in the start of the Chauvin case sold his home after it was targeted. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and his wife had lived in the house for years but were forced to sell due to the nightly harassment.
The targeting of the homes of prosecutors and witnesses create serious concerns of intimidation and harassment. It also magnifies concerns over the comments of political figures like Waters.
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