First Thing: Minneapolis ‘on edge’ as Derek Chauvin trial enters its second week

Good morning.

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Photograph: Octavio Jones/Reuters

The trial of a former police officer over the murder of George Floyd is entering its second week, in what is widely viewed as a watershed moment for police accountability in the US.

  • What did we learn in week one? From witnesses attempts to help Floyd, to his struggle with opioid addiction, here’s a roundup of the key things we learnt from the first week of the trial.

In Minneapolis, the site of Floyd’s killing and launchpad of global demonstrations against police brutality and racial inequality, the mood is tense; the Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar said the community was “on edge” over the verdict.

Floyd died last May when the police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest, allegedly continuing after Floyd had pleaded he could not breathe and stopped moving. Chauvin has denied murder.

  • The trial has shown how hard it is to access help for addiction, writes Chris McGreal. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, gave an emotional testimony in court about the pair’s struggle to quit opioids, but Chauvin’s defence will try to use Floyd’s substance abuse to persuade jurors that was the cause of death.

© Photograph: Octavio Jones/Reuters
Visitors pay their respects at George Floyd Square after the first week of the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.

Florida has introduced a state of emergency over a reservoir that is threatening to burst

Florida’s governor has warned of a potential “catastrophic flood situation” in the state, as a storage reservoir in an old phosphate mine threatens to collapse. In response, millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater have been pumped into an environmentally significant bay in the state to ease pressure on the reservoir, with experts warning this could cause devastating pollution.

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency after officials said the pond’s collapse could be “imminent”, and aerial images showed water pouring from leaks.

  • More than 70 people have died in flash floods in Indonesia after torrential rain caused floods and landslides through the east of the country and neighbouring Timor-Leste on Sunday. The deluge caused dams to overflow, submerging thousands of homes and preventing access for rescue workers.

Actors of colour swept the Screen Actors Guild awards

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Simone Ledward Boseman accepts an award on behalf of her late husband, Chadwick Boseman, at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Photograph: Sag Awards Handout/Reuters

The 27th Screen Actors Guild awards took place last night, a pre-recorded event set largely on Zoom. The star-studded cast of the 1960s courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 8 took the top prize, while for the first time actors of colour took home all of the individual awards.

The awards are widely seen as foreshadowing Oscars results, indicating that this year’s Oscars could have a historically diverse line-up.

How Biden’s $2tn plan takes aim at racial inequality

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Joe Biden speaks about the March jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House on Friday. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Joe Biden’s ambitious plan to rebuild American infrastructure also aims to tackle racial inequality, writes Lauren Gambino. From replacing lead pipes which disproportionately harm Black children to expanding affordable housing options, the plan takes aim at deep-seated issues of inequality.

Many activists have hailed it as “one of the single most impactful plans to address racial and gender inequity in our economy”, while others want the plan to go a step further.

  • Republicans have decried the plan as a partisan tax hike that devotes too much money to environmental initiatives such as electric vehicles.

In other news …

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Lilliana prepares to start classes at home while her school was closed due to coronavirus restrictions in Louisville, Kentucky, in February. Photograph: Amira Karaoud/Reuters

  • About 800 million children are still not fully back in school following the coronavirus pandemic, with humanitarian bodies warning that the closures will have a lasting impact on their education and rights amid fears they are being pushed into abusive situations.

  • The truck driver involved in Taiwan’s train crash has expressed “deep remorse” over the disaster, after his runaway vehicle rolled into the path of an express train and caused a derailment that killed at least 50 people.

  • Trump wished a happy Easter to ‘radical left crazies’ in a statement released to journalists, which continued to peddle baseless claims about the US election. “Happy Easter to ALL,” Trump said, “including the Radical Left CRAZIES who rigged our Presidential Election, and want to destroy our Country!”

Stat of the day: the number of Americans who are members of a place of worship has fallen from 70% to 47% in two decades

Fewer than half of Americans belong to a church, mosque or synagogue, according to a new survey, down from 70% two decades ago. Why is this? Some of the change can be attributed to changing generations; just 36% of millennials belong to church, while the rate is almost twice as high in those born before 1946.


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But many think the connection between rightwing politics and Christianity has something to do with it, with one academic describing it as an “allergic reaction to the religious right”.

Don’t miss this: the Jacksons on fame and family

As they bring out a new, political reworking of a classic track, the Jackson brothers Tito, Marlon and Jackie discuss the truth about their notoriously tough father, the struggles that Michael encountered, and the future of their music.

Last thing: an Australian man built a horse out of paper in quarantine

David Marriott was forced to quarantine in a hotel in Brisbane after a visit to London for the funeral of his father. What to do with his time? Build a horse out of the brown paper bags carrying the meals dropped at his door, of course. Alongside Russell the horse, the Sydney-based art director has also made himself a cowboy outfit.

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