Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty late yesterday of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the asphyxiation death of George Floyd last May outside of a local convenience store. Video of Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck resulted in a huge public outcry by persons of all races and persuasions, including police officers. There were also violent demonstrations and looting, which led to a backlash.
I watched portions of the jury trial and listened to the closing arguments. This was a rare case in which numerous police officers, including Chauvin's own chief, testified against him. There was no thin blue line. I believe that is why he was convicted. There was no reasonable doubt.
This case opened the festering wound of racism, both overt and implicit, still afflicting us.
But the racism goes both ways. I know someone, a guidance counselor at a local high school, who complained that Chauvin was given a trial at all. I told her we all have a constitutional right to due process and a jury trial. I added there was no difference between her attitude and that of a KKK lynch mob. She ended our friendship when I told her that being black gives her no immunity from her own prejudices.
People in my age group tend to be the worst of us, myself included. I am much better than I was in my youth, but still have a ways to go. From watching my grandson grow up and his interactions with friends of all persuasions, I am very hopeful for our future.
Most of us would agree that excessive police force, looting and violent demonstrations are all criminal acts. Unfortunately, extremists in our midst drive us to one side or the other.
On one extreme, we have Amy Zanelli. She's a judicial in West Bethlehem and Fountain Hill, defended looting as an appropriate response to slavery. "Stop blaming people for looting in a country who’s [sic] greed was so boundless they captured, relocated, and enslaved entire generations," she wrote.
On the other extreme, there's firebrand conservative Tricia Mezacappa. She's scheduled to be sentenced today for lying to state troopers in an attempt to frame a black man. Upon hearing the Floyd verdict, she wrote this: "George Floyd was a violent criminal thug who deserved a bullet but killed himself by gulping down meth/ fentanyl." The Court will give her more compassion than she would to Floyd.
What's your take on the verdict?