I binge watched the trial of George Floyd’s killer, never expecting that justice would be served. I listened attentively to the and definitions of police policy and training. I was most attentive to the legal terms, what constituted murder in its various degrees. I saw the video of Derek Chauvin rapping on the driver’s side window—his initial encounter with George, for a misdemeanor, passing a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. A mere citation would have sufficed for such a minor criminal act, but Derek ‘s drawn gun escalated the scene from the very beginning. Along with most of the country, I had watched George Floyd being murdered, but given the recent racial tenor, the most I expected was a verdict of manslaughter two.
Soon after he was killed, George Floyd was portrayed as a generous and caring person, beloved by his community. A gentle giant. But George had his demons. A history of drug abuse was revealed. I feared how the jury would be affected by this fact. And given the racial unrest of 2020, I wondered how they would react to his having a white girlfriend, also a habitual drug user.
Guilty of all three charges: two counts of murder and one of manslaughter.
For me, this was instant renewed of my faith in a country that had turned a blind eye to so many instances of overreacting to Black males by White police officers. The sainted gentle giant was given justice with all his flaws, by a jury who looked beyond his imperfection and saw a human being deserving of a fair verdict by the book.
In the aftermath, what can we expect as a spin-off of this victory?
I feared that breaking news would shift its focus, George Floyd would no longer garner headlines, and the public’s attention would move elsewhere. But the martyrdom of George Floyd already inspired a continued nationwide response. I felt encouraged to learn that in case Derek Chauvin was not convicted, the Federal Government had a contingency plan to file charges of Civil Rights Violation against him, as well as the three other officers involved.
I am hopeful for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a step in the right direction to eliminate discriminatory police misconduct and ensure transparency and accountability. Law enforcement policies are long overdue for review. The excessive practice of minor traffic stops for Blacks, as opposed to Whites, must cease. Diversity training needs to be mandatory. It should include eradication of the notion that Black males are more dangerous than White males, requiring automatic escalation of force down the barrel of a gun.
In the days to come, let us be mindful of the enduring trauma of the family, as well as the bystanders who bore witness to murder before their eyes, especially the teenager who gave the world the video, and the EMT who offered to render assistance, but was ordered back to the curb. And yes, those who have been abused by the elicit police, but never made the news, as they endure humiliation in silence. Let us remember those people in our prayers, but also in our judicial and legislative action.
written by Amy Bryant, Safety Harbor resident blogger
Author of You Can Go Home Again