Regarding the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial

The George Floyd Mural in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Like with many people in the United States, and across the world, my heart was beating at a mile a minute as the judge in the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial read the verdict on all three counts:

Guilty.

Guilty.

Guilty.

After I heard the verdict, I was personally relieved. I know many others who feel relieved with the verdict as well, for it meant that George Floyd’s life mattered enough that the police officer who killed him went to prison.

However, in my own humble opinion (humble because I do not have to worry about police on a daily basis like my friends of color do), what we saw today was not justice for George Floyd. Justice would’ve been if George Floyd didn’t get killed at the hands of Derek Chauvin.

Instead, what we got was accountability. Namely, accountability for a chokehold that lasted nearly 10 minutes. Derek Chauvin, the person who killed George Floyd, was held accountable for that chokehold.

That accountability often does not happen. Look at Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, and many others. All of these individuals were killed by police officers, and yet the police officers who killed them didn’t go to jail. In all these cases, we got neither justice nor accountability.

The ultimate goal should be justice, period. Justice means that Blacks are treated the same by law enforcement as others–something that is far from being the case. Justice means that Blacks aren’t so disproportionately subject to everything from marijuana use to being shot at in spite of being unarmed.[1] Justice means that my friends of color and my brother’s friends of color are given the same treatment by law enforcement that I receive.[2] But justice goes beyond policing–it means the elimination of racial inequality in everything from our schools to our economic systems. Reaching this goal of justice will not be easy, and it may take a long time to achieve this goal (especially as long as too many people keep electing politicians who do everything in their power to keep us from marching towards justice), but that should be our goal.

However, we can hope that the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial will at least be a first step towards accountability. Namely, accountability in terms of how Blacks are policed. With accountability, we can get a step closer to making sure that Black lives truly matter.

Please note that I wrote this piece on the fly, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes I made here.


[1] https://blindinjusticeblog.com/2020/06/01/on-the-policing-of-people-of-color-and-the-death-of-george-floyd/

[2] Ibid.

31 Replies to “Regarding the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial”

  1. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    This afternoon, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts of murdering George Floyd. I planned to write a post later about it, but meanwhile I read Brendan’s piece, and … well, I couldn’t have said it any better, so I am re-blogging his. Thank you, Brendan.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful post! Thank you very much for sharing! I am a writer from Australia, and understand that I’ll never be able to grasp the situation of police enforcement in America, but I am constantly trying to learn and listen to those who have a greater understanding than I. Have you noticed any differences in community perspectives after the decision? Are people supportive of the decision? I have also written an article on the matter on my blog sharing my thoughts. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that aswell if you have time 🙂 All the best!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the compliment!

      To answer your questions, I live in a part of United States that is considered pretty liberal, which means (in the sense of police issues) that most would be sympathetic to the George Floyds and Eric Garners of the world to begin with. All that being said, in New York City (where I live) the reaction was a combination of joy and relief over the verdict, so that I think says a lot.

      My city is also the home of two of the more infamous police brutality cases in recent years–the cases of Sean Bell (in the neighborhood neighboring mine) and Eric Garner (not as close to the part of New York City where I live, but still in New York City). As such, in many ways a fair number of us were attuned to the reality of police brutality before the racial justice movements of the past year or two.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Brendan, thank you very much for your response! I’ve definitely sensed a common theme of joy and relief which you touched upon. I hope those powerful emotions can lead to action and change by law-makers across America. The judgement could be a defining moment, but only if something comes after it. I guess time will tell, but I’m certainly hopeful!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched and cried with relief when the 3 calls of guilty were announced. It is a step on a long road for all people who have felt this type of injustice, maybe the enormity of this crime and the public outcry will go a long way to correcting societies issues. Accountability is a good start.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sometimes it seems that a large number of human beings, however precious their lives, can be considered disposable to a nation. And when the young children of those people take notice of this, they’re vulnerable to begin perceiving themselves as worthless. It’s atrociously unjust and desperately needs to stop. Although their devaluation as human beings is basically based on their race, it still reminds me of the devaluation, albeit perhaps subconsciously, of the daily civilian lives lost (a.k.a. “casualties”) in protractedly devastating civil war zones and sieges. At some point, they can end up receiving just a few column inches in the First World’s daily news.

    At a very young and therefore impressionable age, I was emphatically told by my mother (who’s of Eastern European heritage) about the exceptionally kind and caring nature of our Black family doctor. She never had anything disdainful to say about people of color; in fact she loves to watch/listen to the Middle Eastern and Indian subcontinental dancers and musicians on the multicultural channels. This had a positive effect upon me. Had she (for whatever reason) told me the opposite about the doctor, however, I could have aged while blindly linking his color with an unjustly cynical view of him and, eventually, all Black people.

    Some people — who may now be in an armed authority capacity — were raised with a distrust or blind dislike of other racial groups.

    The first step towards changing our irrationally biased thinking can be our awareness of it and its origin. But until then, I believe, such biased sentiments should either be kept to oneself or counselled, especially when considering the mentality is easily inflamed by anger.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m hearing today that Derek Chauvin was sentenced to twenty three and a half years. When you wilfully take a life (people were begging him to stop) you need to pay for it.Twenty three years doesn’t seem long enough. George Floyd didn’t deserve to have his young life cut short. What I don’t like though is turning a criminal with a long rap sheet into some sort of saint. He wasn’t. I’m infuriated that the media has normalised the riots. Some people may have protested what happened to George Floyd, but given the damage to innocent people’s livelihoods many more have indiscriminately damaged and opportunistically looted across the country and no arrests made. And worse, this was done in the middle of a pandemic with no social distancing. No one wants to connect the dots there.

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    1. I agree with you that a lengthy sentence was warranted for Chauvin. And that Floyd’s life was wrongfully cut short. Floyd was a person with flaws (he battled a drug addiction–something that many other people battle) but it does not take away from the fact that he was ultimately killed over basically a counterfeit $20.

      To say that the riots resulted in no arrests made was just not what I saw. I’m also not quite sure what makes you assert that the media normalized the riots. There was one day alone, in New York City alone (my hometown), where 200 arrests were made as a result of riots: https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/more-than-a-dozen-arrested-during-george-floyd-protest-at-union-square/2436965/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. George Floyd had a long rap sheet. He was a criminal. Those are the facts. His life was cut short well before his time. Derek Chauvin has earned a long stint in jail. Those are facts. Out of thousands doing damage to innocent people’s businesses, and stealing what they had no right to, only 200 people arrested? There’s no dressing facts up with emotion. Do you know what sentences these two hundred people received?
        If you weighed up the decades it took to build up a beautiful city ‘a hell of a town’ and the short time it’s taken for thugs to trash it, I know who has my sympathy.
        There are any number of you tube clips that talk about mostly peaceful protests.

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      2. I’ve read your link. 200 arrests including two women detained after one threw a Molotov cocktail at a police van — and multiple cops were believed to have been injured including teeth knocked out. Commissioner Shea said the woman who threw the Molotov cocktail faces attempted murder charges. Officers recovered a firearm, bricks, and brace knuckles from protesters they arrested. There is no excusing or ignoring that sort of violence. But the media pretended it was mostly peaceful protests, dividing the day time and night time protests as if the night time rioters were from some other planet so they can be ignored.

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      3. Actually, most of the protests were peaceful–93% of them, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED): https://acleddata.com/2020/09/03/demonstrations-political-violence-in-america-new-data-for-summer-2020/

        I should also note that ACLED is a widely-respected non-governmental organization in the field of data collection with regards to conflict. News media from different parts of the political spectrum have used their data, ranging from The Daily Telegraph to The Guardian.

        P.S. ACLED also noted that a very small number of counter-protests where Black Lives Matter and pro-police people were involved actually turned violent. So it should be noted that it was not just BLM, but pro-police demonstrations, that seemed to seldom turn violent. This does not excuse the few protests that turned violent though nor should it be viewed as such–one violent protest is one too many.

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      4. On YouTube:
        Minneapolis burns as protestors pop up in more US cities
        Violent protests and looting rock cities on the west coast
        Weekend of protests, violence leaves some cities in chaos

        There’s lots more if you care to look for it. There’s that old saying about how a picture paints a thousand words.

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      5. I’m sure there’s lots more. But the devil’s in the details. Those YouTube videos were showing individual instances, while the link I shared showed the big picture across the country. It’s important to look at data which shows the big picture, because the media (speaking of media) has a tendency to gravitate towards the worst things–something that is sometimes referred to as “bad news bias.”

        Another statistic to consider is the fact that only 3.7% of protests had property damage or vandalism involved. And among that 3.7%, some of it involved neither police or protestors but people engaging in such action alongside the protests: https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news-and-ideas/black-lives-matter-protesters-were-overwhelmingly-peaceful-our-research-finds

        By the way, I’m going to curtail my end of the conversation here. I don’t think either of us are going to change each other’s minds here, but hopefully, if nothing else, the sources I cited here give you some insight as to where I’m coming from.

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