Guilty on all three counts. That was the sentence heard across America, as former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. What are we to make of this trial and the events and comments surrounding it?
The answer to that question depends on who we ask.
To many black Americans, this was a watershed moment.
First, for them, the gut-wrenching video of Floyd’s death while under Chauvin’s knee was undeniable testimony to the police brutality they have experienced for years. In their eyes, there is no question that Chauvin would not have treated a white man in this way, and there is no question of his guilt. This, they would say, is what they have experienced for decades (let alone centuries past), and now there is indisputable video evidence.
Second, the guilty verdicts prove that the police can no longer get away with murder, specifically, with the murder of a black man. Too many eyes are watching and justice must be done.
To many white conservatives, George Floyd’s tragic death had nothing to do with race.
First, they would say that we don’t know for sure that Chauvin’s treatment of Floyd was race based. Perhaps he mistreated whites as well? Or perhaps it was based on Chauvin and Floyd knowing each other outside of this confrontation?
Second, they would argue that statistically, it is more likely for a white person to be killed by police than a black person. They would also point out that it is more likely for a black cop to pull the trigger on a black suspect than for a white cop to pull the trigger on a black suspect.
For liberal Americans, this is the moment to refocus on the question of systemic racism. In the words of President Biden, “It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism … a stain on our nation’s soul.”
Conservatives would respond, “Actually, we don’t know that this had anything to do with racism, let alone with systemic racism.”
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SOURCE: AskDrBrown.org, Michael Brown