The case against Chauvin will soon be adjudicated. The question is, can America handle the verdict?
The entire nation is on edge as the jury finished its deliberation as to whether Derek Chauvin is guilty of either 2nd Degree Murder, 3rd Degree Murder, or 2nd Degree Manslaughter. Or, whether he was in fact not liable for George Floyd’s death last spring and will be acquitted.
A Country on Edge
Cities around the nation are preparing for backlash in the event of a “not guilty” verdict. Businesses all around Minneapolis have boarded their windows and officials all the way from the local Minneapolis patrol officer to the President of the United States are watching with a vested interest.
Some states, Minnesota included, have activated the National Guard to help better ensure safety for both citizens and property.
Despite having no stake in the outcome of the trial at all, National Guard soldiers standing watch early this past Sunday morning were targets of a drive-by shooting. Two soldiers were injured in the shooting, but none were killed.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he is “praying” for the right verdict. He also said that he spoke to Floyd’s family and that their desire is “peace and tranquility” regardless of the verdict that is handed down.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty
While President Biden’s comments will likely be admired by about half of the population, the other half is likely wondering why a sitting president would comment on an active trial prior to a verdict. I saw that President Biden said he waited until the jury was sequestered to make the comment. Nevertheless, I’m not sure why his opinion on this topic is an overtly relevant one. The verdict will be rendered based upon the facts presented in the case and the decision will be made by a jury of Chauvin’s peers, not by an incumbent president, public outrage, or the news media.
The concept of innocent until proven guilty has proven of late to be no more than a mantra people repeat rather than a belief they solemnly adhere to. Even as a police officer, I never understood how one could be “innocent until proven guilty” and then get arrested for the crime of which he/she isn’t yet legally “guilty.”
That said, a free and fair electoral process and a fair shake at getting an equitable trial are all a citizen can hope for. Regardless of the verdict, we should all hope for the same in this case.
Blame the ONE, Not the Many
When a school teacher molests a 14-year-old student, who do we, as a society, blame? The teacher, of course. We may blame that school or that principal and if it seems the parent of the child was negligent we may blame him/her too. The teacher was the one who made a bad decision; the teacher was the one who slept with a student.
Yet, the teaching profession didn’t molest the child. Every teacher in America didn’t molest the child. One did. I would contend that teachers who molest students are probably a more common occurrence than police officers who kill people for no reason. In many cases, the damage done by that one teacher is extremely devastating to the victim. Further, the victim has to live with that burden for the rest of his/her life. After the story comes out, though, we don’t burn the school down or call for all teachers to be fired. That wouldn’t be logical.
How about another example. When a priest molests a child who do we hold accountable? The priest, of course. We don’t burn Bibles in the street or break out the church’s stained-glass windows as a response. We charge that priest with a crime. That also is logical.
I’m simply arguing that the same benefit should be given to police officers as well. Not all cops are bad.
Police officers deal with a variety of traumatic situations on nearly a daily basis. If one of them screws up or breaks the law, then the individual officer should be dealt with accordingly. A police officer who breaks the law doesn’t automatically mean that all cops are bad (ACAB). It means that one might be. It is on the brink of disgusting for me that the actions of one are consistently thrust upon the backs of the many. It isn’t logical and it isn’t fair.
Perpetuating scenes like the one seen in the picture above doesn’t befit a civil society or a democratic process. Throwing trash all over streets that you frequent doesn’t make sense. Burning down businesses that keep your city running is just plain stupid. Looting stores that help provide jobs in your city is pointless. The criminal justice system only has one place for such behavior: prison.
Regardless of whether Chauvin is found guilty of murder or whether he is acquitted, we should respect the democratic process for what it is. There is a lot I don’t agree with regarding Chauvin’s actions that day, but it also cannot be argued that Floyd didn’t first commit a crime, thus inserting himself into an encounter with police.
If not for the initial crime, then Floyd would have gone about his day likely unobstructed by police. If Floyd had not resisted arrest or fought to be placed inside the police car, then he likely would have never been placed on the ground. If Floyd died of an overdose, he would’ve likely died at the same time whether he was in a vehicle or lying prone on the concrete. Similarly, if he had overdosed after being gently placed inside a police vehicle he probably wouldn’t have been attended to for 20 minutes as the officer completed his investigation at the convenience store.
If Floyd didn’t overdose or resist arrest then he would almost certainly be alive today.
If Chauvin and/or Chauvin’s knee to his neck killed him, then he should be found guilty. If, however, the medical evidence presented by the prosecution doesn’t fit, the jury should acquit him.
Finally, I believe Reagan put it best when he said:
“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”