Today a jury in Minneapolis, Minnesota, convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin on all counts in the death of George Floyd. On May 25, 2020, Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds after arresting him for allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. The jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He faces up to 75 years in prison, and will be sentenced in two months.
Thank you, Professor Richardson.
A mention is due for those citizens who served on the jury in this trial. Those twelve were charged with doing the work of weighing the evidence, and ultimately deciding if Derek Chauvin should be found guilty of taking the life of George Floyd, and if so, spending the rest of his life behind bars.
They were working on behalf of all of us, making real the promise of equal justice under law. They did their duty with the knowledge that one day, when the judge determines it safe to do so, their names would be made public. That is no small thing in a society as divided as ours.
Thank you for remembering Darnella Frazier's courage and presence of mind. I am hoping she will win a Pulitzer Prize this year for what she did. Because without her...
These two sentences: “May her extraordinary act of bearing witness bring peace to Ms. Frazier.
“Rest in power, Mr. Floyd.”
I’m in tears. Thank you.
In an excellent opinion piece for the Guardian, rapper Killer Mike made a telling observation among his other excellent comments. He said, "Anybody can do the right thing after the wrong thing has happened. Anybody can punish individuals after the fact. But what does that do for the next victim? What does that do for the next Black family in America who will lose their child or father or mother to martyrdom and does not know it yet? Legal actions that don’t change the mechanics of the system are empty concessions to disguise what those mechanics are all about...
... We have to change the culture of policing itself, to save the _next_ life. We have to end qualified immunity."
Read the whole article here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/apr/20/george-floyd-derek-chauvin-killer-mike-police
Another remarkable aspect of the Chauvin trial was the crack in The Blue Wall; fellow police officers, including and especially the chief, testified for the prosecution.
As Trevor Noah asked in an oral essay on The Daily Show, where are the good apples? We've heard all about the bad apples, but several Minneapolis cops stood by as Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Aren't they culpable? Why didn't they try to stop Chauvin or at least speak up or make their own videos with their cell phones? Trevor Noah concluded that's because the whole tree is rotten. There are no good apples; The Blue Wall. Maybe he can be proven wrong. Maybe now the good apples will be encouraged to step up and let it be known that bad cops can no longer rely on The Blue Wall to cover Gestapo tactics against citizens.
Today was a demonstration of the power of people. Ordinary people going about their ordinary lives doing ordinary things, and when they saw something extraordinary, that they knew was wrong, they had the ability to step out of their ordinariness and do what the moment required. And they may, just maybe, have changed the world.
Let’s not forget the outstanding performance of the prosecutor team, which left the defense pretty much hogtied.
I would like to believe we’ve turned a sharp corner in race relations, but I remind myself of how very little has been done with gun control in the years since Sandy Hook, and my optimism is tempered by the uphill battles that remain. But admittedly, these three convictions were giant steps in the right direction.
Rosa Brooks, in Politico: “While the national media understandably puts a spotlight on Chauvin, we should not forget that three other Minneapolis police officers were also on the scene that day last May: Officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. Their sheer passivity was, in some ways, more stunning than Chauvin’s casual cruelty.”
There would have been a different outcome were it not for Ms. Frazier’s video. Maddow talked about that tonight too. I hope this isn’t a “one off.” I hope some things will change in law enforcement all around our Nation.
Thank goodness for Darnella Frazier and her presence of mind to record what Chauvin was doing George Floyd. Thank goodness for the police who testified and told the truth, and for the jurors, who watched and listened and delivered the 3 guilty verdicts. Thank you, Dr. Richardson for your letter. I pray and hope that this is the beginning of the end of the blue wall of silence.
Slain civil rights workers found
The remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”
Michael Schwerner, who arrived in Mississippi as a CORE field worker in January 1964, aroused the animosity of white supremacists after he organized a successful black boycott of a variety store in the city of Meridian and led voting registration efforts for African Americans. In May, Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, sent word that the 24-year-old Schwerner, nicknamed “Goatee” and “Jew-Boy” by the KKK, was to be eliminated. On the evening of June 16, two dozen armed Klansmen descended on Mt. Zion Methodist Church, an African American church in Neshoba County that Schwerner had arranged to use as a “Freedom School.” Schwerner was not there at the time, but the Klansmen beat several African Americans present and then torched the church.
On June 20, Schwerner returned from a civil rights training session in Ohio with 21-year-old James Chaney and 20-year-old Andrew Goodman, a new recruit to CORE. The next day—June 21—the three went to investigate the burning of the church in Neshoba. While attempting to drive back to Meridian, they were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price just inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the county seat. Price, a member of the KKK who had been looking out for Schwerner or other civil rights workers, threw them in the Neshoba County jail, allegedly under suspicion for church arson.
After seven hours in jail, during which the men were not allowed to make a phone call, Price released them on bail. After escorting them out of town, the deputy returned to Philadelphia to drop off an accompanying Philadelphia police officer. As soon as he was alone, he raced down the highway in pursuit of the three civil rights workers. He caught the men just inside county limits and loaded them into his car. Two other cars pulled up filled with Klansmen who had been alerted by Price of the capture of the CORE workers, and the three cars drove down an unmarked dirt road called Rock Cut Road. Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were shot to death and their bodies buried in an earthen dam a few miles from the Mt. Zion Methodist Church.
The next day, the FBI began an investigation into the disappearance of the civil rights workers. On June 23, the case drew national headlines, and federal agents found the workers’ burned station wagon. Under pressure from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the FBI escalated the investigation, which eventually involved more than 200 FBI agents and scores of federal troops who combed the woods and swamps looking for the bodies. The incident provided the final impetus needed for the 1964 Civil Rights Act to pass Congress on July 2, and eight days later FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover came to Mississippi to open a new Bureau office. Eventually, Delmar Dennis, a Klansman and one of the participants in the murders, was paid $30,000 and offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for information. On August 4, the remains of the three young men were found. The culprits were identified, but the state of Mississippi made no arrests.
Finally, on December 4, nineteen men, including Deputy Price, were indicted by the U.S. Justice Department for violating the civil rights of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney (charging the suspects with civil rights violations was the only way to give the federal government jurisdiction in the case). After nearly three years of legal wrangling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately defended the indictments, the men went on trial in Jackson, Mississippi. The trial was presided over by an ardent segregationist, U.S. District Judge William Cox, but under pressure from federal authorities and fearing impeachment, he took the case seriously. On October 27, 1967, an all-white jury found seven of the men guilty, including Price and KKK Imperial Wizard Bowers. Nine were acquitted, and the jury deadlocked on three others. The mixed verdict was hailed as a major civil rights victory, as no one in Mississippi had ever before been convicted for actions taken against a civil rights worker.
In December, Judge Cox sentenced the men to prison terms ranging from three to 10 years. After sentencing, he said, “They killed one n*****, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them what I thought they deserved.” None of the convicted men served more than six years behind bars.
On June 21, 2005, the forty-first anniversary of the three murders, Edgar Ray Killen, was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter. At eighty years of age and best known as an outspoken white supremacist and part-time Baptist minister, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Thank you Heather.
If I may interject without recourse.
I was thinking the same yesterday as I watched the verdict being read. Had a video not been made, there would have been no trial, nor conviction. How many more George Floyd's are in their graves without the satisfaction of a conviction. More to the point, how many more Chauvins are out there going about their day as if nothing happened?
Be safe, be well.
Tonight I heard or watched a couple of hours of reactions to the Chauvin verdict. All Black commentators said something about "low-hanging fruit." Guilt was simply too obvious, too grotesque -- yet a guilty verdict was not. The world had to wait for a verdict that should have been called a slam dunk, if George Tenet hadn't discredited the phrase. But what about all the others where the horror doesn't stare us straight in the face like Chauvin? The unforgettable spectacle of police piling on one of their own in court still suggests how the police close ranks around their own interest. More justice still needed.
Who was responsible for issuing the Minneapolis PD false news release saying: “Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”? Shouldn’t that person be fired? Shouldn’t giving the news media false information be treated the same a filing s false police report?
Morning, all!! Morning, Dr. R!! Many Americans achieved a huge win for accountability over yesterday's verdict. What's next? HR 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021; S1, the For the People Act of 2021; HR 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act : https://fairfight.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Abrams-Senate-Judiciary-Testimony-4.20.2021.pdf
When I write my lawmakers, I make the assumption that they are going to vote the way I want them to: "Dear Senator (Fill-in): I wholeheartedly support your YES vote for 117th Congress' S1 For the People Act of 2021. With your YES vote, together we can make this country truly great again," or words to this effect.
"I can't breathe" were some of George Floyd's last words. His daughter Gianna said "My daddy is going to change the world." It was Darnella Frazier, a teen, who changed the world. #CourageToAct
Yet we have only begun to have accountability, not justice. Less than an hour after the verdicts were announced, a sixteen year old girl was killed by police. It continues to happen nationwide.
There still is no federal anti-lynching law in this country. Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. President Biden is ready to sign it.
Reforms are still needed. But for a moment, we were able to exhale.. and cry... and avoid riots, at least for a moment.