Police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, shocking the consciousness of the entire United States. On May 25 of this year, President Joe Biden announced that he will instate an executive order which is a watered-down version of a police reform proposal that previously failed to pass in the Senate. The failed proposal would have altered “qualified immunity”, a doctrine that makes it difficult to sue government officials, including police. The proposal would have kept the doctrine intact for individual officers, but made it easier for police brutality victims to sue officers or municipalities. This new executive order would merely create a national registry of officers fired for misconduct, in addition to directing federal agencies to revise use-of-force policies, encouraging state and local police to tighten restrictions on chokeholds and no-knock warrants, restrict the transfer of most military equipment to law enforcement agencies, as reported by the New York Times.
With a caravan of dozens of cars, protesters in St. Paul continue to demand justice for George Floyd as the federal trial begins for the three former Minneapolis Police officers who assisted Derek Chauvin while he murdered Floyd. Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, all fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, face federal charges of violating George Floyd’s civil rights. Opening statements began Monday, January 24.
As students at the University of South Florida quietly sobbed during a moment of silence for George Floyd last summer, they had no idea their candlelight vigil, organized before a monument to an assassinated civil rights leader, had been infiltrated by federal agents. They were not aware that the campus police department charged with their protection had invited federal drug cops to dress in plain clothes and stand beside them as they took turns venting their anger and frustration—fear over the growing number of unarmed Black people being shot dead by police. The students weren’t the only ones being monitored. At least 51 times last summer, drug enforcement agents were asked to surveil Americans engaged in First Amendment activities stemming from the backlash over Floyd’s murder.
The depth of public connection with George Floyd was clear on the day the verdict of his police killer was announced. The moment was awaited with trepidation and the guilty verdict was met with enthusiasm and in some cases outright joy. But at the same time that the world learned the perpetrator’s fate, a 16-year old named Ma’Khia Bryant was also killed by the police. Police in the United States kill more than 1,000 people every year, an average of three every day. Had young Ms. Bryant been killed on any other date, it is probable that no one outside of her immediate circle would know her name either. But demands for justice must be expanded beyond the latest police lynching that the media may choose to expose.
Over thirty years ago, James Baldwin was the subject of a PBS documentary The Price of the Ticket (1989) in which he reflected on what he considered a lack of progress in combatting racism in America: “What is it that you wanted me to reconcile myself to. I was born here more than 60 years ago. I’m not going to live another 60 years. You always told me that it’s going to take time. It’s taken my father’s time, my mother’s time, my uncle’s time, my brothers’ and my sisters’ time, my nieces and my nephew’s time. How much time do you want for your progress?” Sadly, his comment remains vital today. On April 21, 2021, a jury found Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. There has been much written regarding whether the verdict represents justice for Floyd...
During the trial of Derek Chauvin, one key issue was a dispute over the cause of George Floyd’s death. While the prosecution was pointing out that Floyd had suffocated because of neck restraint by police, the defense suggested that there were additional factors that contributed to his death, including Floyd’s reported heart disease and drug abuse. Autopsy conclusions of in-custody deaths made by forensic pathologist Dr. David Fowler during his 17 year career as a chief medical examiner in Maryland, who testified in Chauvin’s trial, will be re-examined, the Baltimore Sun reported on Friday, citing state officials. The decision was made after Fowler, a former chief medical examiner in Maryland from 2002 to 2019, testified in court as a defense witness, stating that Chauvin’s neck compression was not a "substantial contributor" to Floyd's death.
Darnella Frazier is a whistleblower. She’s an important one. Few Americans will know her name, but we should all be thanking her. Darnella is the 17-year-old who took the video of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd. That video has become the de facto official record of Floyd’s death. Where would we be without it? The Minneapolis Police Department’s initial account was entitled, “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.” It said that police had been called to a Chicago Avenue South address for a “forgery in progress,” that Floyd “appeared to be under the influence,” and that he was “detained without the use of any weapons.” Almost every word in that statement was a lie, of course. The weapon used was Derek Chauvin’s knee. And thanks to Darnella Frazier, we know the truth.
On Tuesday, April 20, jurors in Minnesota found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges brought forward for the death of George Floyd: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin’s bail was also immediately revoked and he was taken into custody after the verdict was read. The guilty verdicts represent a strong departure from the legal norm: between 2005 and 2019, only four police officers had been found guilty of murder in the United States, while an estimated 1,000 people have been shot and killed by cops every year since 2015. A breakdown of that five year study by the Washington Post shows that Black Americans were killed by police at more than double the rate of white people.
As the world awaited the fate of Derek Chauvin–the Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of killing George Floyd–Black Lives Matter co-founder Melina Abdullah joined Robert Scheer on “Scheer Intelligence” to discuss what he calls the most successful social justice movement the country has perhaps ever seen. In the timely episode, Abdullah, a lifelong activist and California State University, Los Angeles professor, traces the roots of the BLM movement back to 2013 and notes that Floyd’s killing was the moment the “world was cracked wide open” for everyone to see the deep-seated systemic racism at the core of every American institution. She adds, however, that regardless of a guilty verdict there is still a lot of work to be done in order to truly achieve racial justice.
One thing is unambiguously clear: Derek Chauvin being found guilty is the result of a historic popular uprising. Chauvin’s brutal murder of George Floyd ignited a massive resistance from Minneapolis’ Third Precinct into the smallest towns and biggest cities in the United States. The Party for Socialism and Liberation was proud to participate in this historic movement that brought millions into the streets, many for the first time. New leaders emerged and are now in the struggle for the long haul. “Justice for George!” was screamed in Trafalgar Square and painted on walls in Port-au-Prince. One Senator was alarmed enough to call for the Army to be sent into the streets and the Mayor of Chicago pulled up the drawbridges to save Trump Tower.
Minneapolis didn’t get here alone. The actions and decisions of many people created the challenges facing the city. Solving them will require the work of many people, too. But before anything changes, people need to start listening to each other. Imagine if Derek Chauvin had listened to George Floyd and let him breathe. A 46-year-old man and father of five would not have died. Minneapolis would not have burned. The city would not have had over $1 billion in damage. And communities would not have had to deal with the fallout of the most expensive civil disorder in U.S. history. After Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, the site of his death turned into a memorial to honor Floyd’s life.
The fix was in. The U.S. state was determined to demonstrate to the world that its system was able to render “justice” to its captive African/Black population. So, unlike in the handful of cases where charges were brought against police officers for killing a Black or Brown person, the prosecutors this time did not pretend to follow the demands of the ill-informed public to bring charges of first degree or second-degree murder that would set a bar for conviction so high, it could not be met. That is a favorite strategy of prosecutors when conviction is not what they are looking for. The prosecutors in the Derek Chauvin case did the opposite. They stacked the charges in a way that would make it impossible to escape a conviction. And everyone fell in line because the stakes were so high. Could the Shining City on the Hill, whose leadership was now associated with the “decent” Democrats, render justice for the killer of George Floyd?
Did you, or someone close to you, participate in any of the demonstrations or marches against police brutality that took place in Minneapolis after George Floyd’s death?. . . If you participated, did you carry a sign? What did it say? These questions were part of the questionnaire given to those summoned to serve as jurors in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd. Provided that judges and attorneys are willing to take these questions up, they could hold the key for beginning more nuanced conversations about race and the criminal legal system. As is well known, the jury selection process is one of the most consequential and contentious phases of the criminal trial.
You could join liberals in celebrating the members of the Minneapolis police force who have testified for the prosecution in the Derek Chauvin murder trial in the past two days, or you could see right through it to what they’re really up to. On Thursday, a retired Minneapolis police officer who was a shift supervisor when Chauvin murdered George Floyd and received a call about the arrest from a concerned 911 dispatcher, became the first cop to desert Chauvin on the stand. Sgt. David Ploeger said that once Floyd was no longer offering any resistance, the cops “could’ve ended the restraint.” And he also revealed to jurors that Chauvin did not immediately admit to him that he’d put his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Drugs have long been used to justify racist police-perpetrated violence, and the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the alleged murder of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street corner last May is, thus far, no different. In his opening statement in a Minneapolis courtroom on Monday, Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric J. Nelson spoke at length about Floyd’s health problems and drug use in a clear attempt to cast doubt on the prosecution’s central argument: Floyd was killed because Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd pleaded for mercy and gasped, “I can’t breathe.” The prosecution saw this coming from miles away. Attempts by Chauvin’s defense to blame the victim began shortly after Floyd was handcuffed and killed in police custody — an alleged murder that was captured on video before sparking mass protests against racist police violence in Minneapolis and across the nation.