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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Inside Cup Foods, customers remain committed to the trial.

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Customers inside Cup Foods paused shopping on Wednesday morning to watch Derek Chauvin’s trial on a TV mounted above an ATM. The cover once again put the store in the spotlight as ‘a former employee took over the booth and never-before-seen surveillance footage from inside the store on the day George Floyd died was shown for the first time.

“This is the first time I’ve seen these images – they were captured the next morning,” said Mike Abumayyaleh, owner of Cup Foods with his brothers.

He said he and his employees were paying close attention to the trial. “We would love to know the outcome,” he said, adding that the phone kept ringing because family and friends wanted to know if he was watching.

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But he said he couldn’t say much because the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension “asked us not to comment until the trial is over.”

A front-door refrigerator display has fresh vegetables, and metal snack shelves – many with $ 2: 1 stickers on them – line the aisles. Brewed coffee is offered on a counter with low rotating stools that overlook what is now known as George Floyd Square. To the right, across the street, is where Mr. Chauvin pinned Mr. Floyd below his knee. The store is a welcome escape from the time and sometimes the action outside.

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“We were able to stay open because of the support from the community,” Mr. Abumayyaleh said between looking at the footage and helping customers on the floor and behind the counter, sometimes speaking Arabic or Spanish.

Across from the TV, the deli counter with metal tables and swivel seats was quiet. The offerings include steaks and eggs, omelets, gyros, and wings. There are coolers with soft drinks and coconut water. A glass corner near the entrance offers tobacco products.

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Across the street, activists and volunteers gathered again for a morning meeting under the portico of the old Speedway gas station. It is a daily routine to gather near a ring of fire which is kept ablaze by volunteers. On Wednesday morning, more than a dozen people gathered to talk and listen. There are regulars and novices almost every morning.

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As the trial began on Wednesday, the group dispersed to find warmth in the nearby Bahá’í Temple, to run errands or to commute to work.

Some said they would keep tabs on the trial on TV or on their phones. Others said they hadn’t been listening – it was too exhausting. Instead, they would listen to recaps or highlights of the day later.

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