With something that has consumed the entire country, and most of the world, for nearly 11 months now, obviously there are mixed messages and emotions after the guilty verdict (x3) for disgraced, murderous former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Here are mine:
1. Initial Thoughts and Reactions
I have to say, I thought he would get convicted of something, but I was pretty shocked that Chauvin was found guilty of 2nd and 3rd degree murder. I thought the jury would probably slap him on the wrist with a manslaughter conviction, but they’d be hesitant to go against “the shield” too hard. Was it me, or could you see the surprise in Chauvin’s eyes after that first “guilty” was read? For a brief moment, I could have sworn we saw the flash of rage that started this in the first place as his eyes darted from the judge to the jury while the rest of the verdicts were read.
As I said in a recent tweet, we all saw the video and knew that Chauvin murdered George Floyd, but the law is always tricky. Like those “swing voters” saying the smallest thing Biden did “made” them vote for Trump, juries seem to look for any way possible to vote how they wanted to in the first place, no matter the evidence. Defense attorneys that attacked the victim or tried to muddy the legal waters and confuse the jury have won in these cases in the past, but not this time.
2. The 24-hour news channels are at their weakest during trials
After barely dipping my toe in the news media water this past year, I’ve lost nearly all respect for cable news programs and their ability to make millions while saying almost nothing at all. In the hour plus between the time we learned the jury reached a verdict and when the verdict was read, all the coverage could be put into two categories: wild speculation and “we still don’t know anything new. Back to you, Jim.”
One reporter on the channel I was watching spent no less than four minutes describing that they had no idea what a such a quick verdict meant, then proceeded to recap the entire George Floyd saga as if it was a new day and we were Drew Barrymore from 50 First Dates.
Maybe I’m just bitter because Quick News Daily doesn’t have such lucrative advertising deals, but man are these channels hard to watch now that I’ve noticed. Like Henry Cavill’s CGI-removed mustache in the Joss-tice League movie, one you see it, you can’t unsee it.
Unfortunately, if there’s anything we’ve learned since 2015, it’s that Americans do not see eye to eye on nearly as much as we thought, which is why I have my doubts about why Chauvin was actually convicted.
The first big question that we won’t know the answers to, at least until jurors start writing their “tell-all” books, is what the jury’s reasoning was? Did they actually base it 100% on the evidence they saw, including the video we all saw, or was it simply because they were afraid of the reaction if they didn’t find Derek Chauvin guilty? I sincerely hope it was not just a “make-up call” for all the past officers who have been let go.
Along those same lines, why did officers fly in from all across the country (including many of Chauvin’s peers from the Minneapolis Police Department, decide that this time was too far? By all accounts, this is the first time that officers have turned on one of their own in one of these cases and testified that what Chauvin did was wrong and not just “part of his training.” Again, you hope that they testified because it was the right thing to do, but I can’t help but think that this Redditor may be on to something in saying that the police thought that by testifying, they would prevent riots and take the nation’s attention off of their tactics for at least a little while.
4. Those who really matter
Another view proposed by Michael Steele on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House is that we don’t know for sure where we go from here, but that this was important for one big reason: healing for the Floyd family.
We can only imagine what America would have looked like last night if Chauvin was acquitted, but for George Floyd’s family, it would be an open wound that never even scabs over. Yes, true justice could not be achieved because Chauvin’s conviction does not bring George back, but it does attach some sort of accountability to the incident. I’m not sure what that’s worth now, but it would be priceless if Chauvin were walking free today.
5. Thank COVID for the new guy
One of the most chilling things about how close the 2020 election is were it not for COVID and the murder of George Floyd, there is no doubt in my mind that Donald J. Trump would have cruised to re-election. But, no matter the reason(s), I am so thankful that we have Joe Biden in the highest office in the land.
The contrast between this:
Is incredible. Frankly, I’m scared to think of what last night would have been like if President “Law and Order” was still in charge and Derek Chauvin was found not guilty. For people who say “there’s no difference between them”, I’d reconsider in this case.
While it’s too early to tell if this was just one small step towards equality or a giant leap, accountability has to become a more common word in America in the coming years.