In a fair world, none of us would have worried about the outcome of Derek Chauvin's trial. We saw Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. We had video. It was murder. Why should we doubt the outcome?
I sit here this morning in a haze of disbelief. Chauvin was convicted? Really? He should have been, of course. But, the outcome was never a sure thing.
I think back to 1991 when the police beating of Rodney King made headlines. We had video of that, too. During the criminal trial, I remember an "analyst" taking us through the video step-by-step. As King moved on the ground while being repeatedly kicked, the "analyst" said something like, "See, he's moving here. He's trying to get up and go after the officers. They had to actively subdue him." And, sure enough, the cops walked on the criminal charges.
Was Rodney King drunk on the night of his beating? He was. Did George Floyd have meth and fentanyl in his system on the day he died? He did. Alcoholism and addiction are diseases that affect millions. Should this be a death sentence?
The first line of defense is always blame the victim. Ask any rape victim. What were you wearing? What about your "promiscuous" history? She's a bad girl who deserved what she got.
It's the same thing when police murder a citizen, particularly if that citizen happens to be Black or a person of color. He was drunk, he was on drugs - he did it to himself.
Despite the use of body cameras and in-depth scrutiny, the disparity between the murder rate of Black citizens and people of color and the rate of whites killed during police encounters has not changed in the last five years. If you are Black or a person of color, your risk of dying during a police interaction is much higher than that of a white individual according to a recent analysis done by Yale and the University of Pennsylvania.
It's going to take fundamental change to right our country's long history of racial wrongs. Let's hope the death of George Floyd does indeed, as his daughter Gianna believes "change the world."
For a more in-depth look into the trial and its significance, see the following:
Heather Cox Richardson April 20, 2021, Facebook Post
Derek Chauvin: Guilty on All Charges - News & Guts