On Monday, the trial of Derek Chauvin began in the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis, about three miles north of the corner where the fired police officer killed George Floyd last May, sparking historic protests against police brutality across the nation. As the prosecution played bystander videos of the homicide for which Chauvin is being charged with second- and third-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter, demonstrators gathered outside the courtroom amid a downtown stapled over with plywood in anticipation of unrest.
“Emotions are high,” says photographer Michael J. Spear, of the protests he has been covering in the city since last May. “It comes across tense just visually, everything is so vacated and boarded up.” But a core group of demonstrators remain, following the trial on their phones and broadcasting its audio on speakers as they honor Floyd and the movement his death reinvigorated. “It’s been a hard year for the city,” Spear says, “but the community is still in the fight.” Below is a selection of his coverage from the eve of the trial, its first day, and the beginning of jury selection.