Brandon Mitchell, one of the 12 jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial and the first among them to go public, is defending his participation in the "Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks" protest last summer according to the Associated Press.
For some, the resurfaced image surfaced brought into question whether he should have been eligible to serve on the jury. In the photo Mitchell said was posted by his uncle, the 31-year-old is captured attending the August 28 March On Washington event to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech among other things. There, siblings of George Floyd , Philonise and Bridgett Floyd, joined other families of victims of police violence in addressing the crowd.
The picture depicts Mitchell wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King and the phrases, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” and “BLM.”
#DerekChauvin jury selection:
Judge: "Have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?"
Potential Juror #BrandonMitchell : "No".
— Dr. Jimmy Yam (@JimmyJoeYam) May 5, 2021
The former Chauvin trial juror admitted to being at the event, but denied having any recollection of wearing or purchasing the shirt, according to The Minnesota Star Tribune.
“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.”
The 31-year-old said the event was meant to honor the 57th anniversary of the renowned King speech that demanding civil rights and was integral in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 2020 event rallied for social justice advocacy in terms of racial equity, voter registration, updated voting laws and participation in the 2020 census.
Prior to the juror selection process, Mitchell said he answered “no” to two questions about participation in protests on a questionnaire.
The Star Tribune reports that the first question asked: “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?”
For the second question, Mitchell was asked, “have you, or anyone close to you, participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality?”
Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson said Mitchell acknowledged during jury selection that he had a “very favorable” view of Black Lives Matter. He said that the former juror shared that he felt neutral about pro-police group Blue Lives Matter. Mitchell expressed that he could remain neutral and impartial at trial, according to The Star Tribune.
Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis defense attorney who was unassociated with the Chauvin trial, said he believes that the Mitchell situation alone isn’t enough alone to overturn Chauvin’s conviction. However, Brandt said it could be combined with other issues in an appeal to contend that the former police officer was denied a fair trial.
Law professor Ted Sampsell-Jones expressed that the photo of Mitchell was “evidence that Chauvin can point to in order to establish that his right to an impartial jury was denied," the Associated Press reports.
Joseph Daly, emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said the former police officer's appeal rests on whether the court believes Mitchell lied in his questionnaire or during jury selection, which is a crime.