Minneapolis nightclub owner says Derek Chauvin was ‘anxious’ over Black customers

Maya Santamaria says she noticed a pattern of systemic racism from Chauvin and other officers during 'urban night'

Former MPD officer Derek Chauvin, left, and George Floyd, right, reportedly worked together at the same nightclub. (Photo: Twitter screengrab/the offices of Ben Crump Law)

A former Minneapolis nightclub owner who recently revealed that George Floyd worked security with Derek Chauvin, the officer now charged for his murder, now says the ex-cop often exhibited an agitation toward Black customers.

Maya Santamaria, who used to own El Nuevo Rodeo Club, told CNN on Friday that when Chauvin worked security for her place of business, he was noticeably “anxious” whenever the clientele was predominantly Black.

“I noticed that he got very anxious when there was urban night with a lot of African American people, as did many other officers. He was certainly not the only one,” Santamaria told CNN.

READ MORE: George Floyd and officer Derek Chauvin worked together at nightclub in 2019

“Our [club] is a predominantly Latino nightclub. With the Latino staff, the police kind of behaved in one manner, and then we had a predominantly African American clientele the way in which … the entire event was completely different.”

When asked how Chauvin and other Minneapolis police treated Black customers compared to those of another race, Santamaria added that the racism exhibited was often “systemic.”

“I would characterize it as skittish. They would get very nervous very quickly and went to pull out the pepper spray with any little thing that might happen. They certainly acted very group mentality; they always had to call backup if any little tiny thing happened.”

On Thursday, Santamaria revealed that Floyd, who was killed on Memorial Day while being detained by police, had worked security for a year at the nightclub. It just so happens that Chauvin, too, worked at the establishment.

Derek Chauvin theGrio.com

Derek Chauvin (screenshot from video)

“Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open,” she told KSTP-TBan ABC local affiliate. “They were working together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.”

Santamaria hired Floyd in 2019 and told the Star Tribune his employment was steady for the entirety of the year but doubts that the two ever met.

“If they would have crossed paths it would probably not have been something they remembered.”

READ MORE: Amy Klobuchar declined to charge cop who killed George Floyd in previous cases

City Council member Andrea Jenkins, like many others, challenged the idea that Floyd and Chauvin did not know each other, telling MSNBC:

“It is really interesting that right across the street from where Ally is standing, is a restaurant called El Nuevo Rodeo. George Floyd worked at the restaurant. So did Officer Chauvin,” Jenkins said.

“They were both bouncers at that restaurant for 17 years. So, Officer Chauvin, he knew George. They were co-workers for a very long time.”

While Jenkins, who is the vice president of the Minneapolis City Council, is right that both Floyd and Chauvin worked security for the establishment all of 2019, Floyd did not work at El Nuevo Rodeo in the early 2000s.

At that time, Floyd was a rapper in Texas producing mixtapes with popular Hip-Hop Chop-N-Screw personality, DJ Screw, and had only moved to the Twin City two years ago.

Chauvin, who had a record of previous uses of force and at least one other shooting of a Black civilian, was arrested and charged with 3rd degree murder on Friday following three nights of civil unrest from protesters grown outraged over a long history of racial violence by the hands of U.S. law enforcement.

Floyd’s death follows other high-profile shooting deaths of unarmed Black people this year, including Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Ga, and Breonna Taylor, who was also shot by police in Louisville, Kentucky.
theGrio’s Biba Adams contributed to this report.
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