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PERSPECTIVES

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The Chauvin verdict - why I'm not thrilled

Date: 2021-Apr-21           Author: Barry Shatzman

Were you thrilled that former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted yesterday of murdering George Floyd?

I'm not thrilled. Not one bit.

Let me say i get why you're over the moon about the verdict. Right there on video we saw with our own eyes a police officer calmly hold his full weight on the back of a prone handcuffed man's neck. A hand in his pocket. His sunglasses staying right there on top of his head. For 749 seconds. Hold your breath right now and see how high you can count. I'll pause to take a long sip of my Aroma's coffee.

The visual was so strong it overcame roadblocks that had stopped virtually every other prosecution of police officers. Chauvin was on duty, and was in the process of arresting Floyd. His former colleagues testified against him - virtually unheard of in police departments.

And i haven't even mentioned the white elephant in the room.

So how could anyone not be thrilled by this groundbreaking verdict? Well... let me ask the opposite question. How would we feel had Chauvin been found not guilty? What if officers had supported defense claims that Floyd would have died there even if Chauvin had brought him a burger rather than cut off his access to air for ten minutes?

Your outrage would be light years beyond over the moon. And mine would be right there with you.

But this case was too easy - the legal equivalent of being in the National Spelling Bee and being asked to spell PIG. And my fear is that it could become the new standard for holding bad cops accountable for atrocious actions.

I mean, it kinda already is. Don't believe me? If you think the only bad things cops do are the ones caught on video, raise your hands.

Like 13-year-old Adam Toledo did. Cop shot him to death anyway. Report said he was holding a gun. Until video released a month later showed he wasn't.

Or Army officer Caron Nazario, tortured by a Virginia police officer. The bad cop was fired - four months after the incident. Why did it take so long? That's when the video was released.

That's what worries me - that now police departments can say they go after bad cops, when in fact this case gives them something to fall back on when they don't.

Doubt that? Remember thinking that electing a black dude to be president showed that racism was a thing of the past? How'd that work out?

So yeah... this case was decided correctly. But little will change unless we reform policing in the country. So police work to serve and protect. I mean... who exactly was Chauvin protecting? Or the cop who shot a 13-year-old boy holding up empty hands? Or the cop who abused an Army officer in uniform?

One thing i can tell you for sure. To think convicting Chauvin fixes anything by itself would be ignoring what we see with our very own eyes.

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