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Chauvin's jurors doled out justice, but politicians still seek division

Chauvin's jurors doled out justice, but politicians still seek division
© Pool Feed

When Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and killed him, neither he nor the victim could know the multi-layered drama that was being written that day. On one level there was the raw criminal act, laid bare on bystander video, interwoven within an otherwise routine police response, and then subjected to the tangled system we have chosen to administer justice in this country.

On another level, the tragic intersection of Chauvin and Floyd last spring has achieved a kind of mythic symbolism that seems to increase daily and, now, with the guilty verdict, is bouncing between poignancy and hyperbole. There is importance attached to both layers that merits perspective if we are to progress towards unity as a multi-racial nation.

First, the criminal act itself. Even the most ardent police supporters recognized culpability in Chauvin’s actions. The video evidence clearly showed that his behavior radically deviated from common police procedure. Chauvin’s defense team argued that he was following training protocols. If so, then they are protocols wildly different from law enforcement standards everywhere else.  

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When a subject is handcuffed and therefore considered adequately restrained, he should be placed as soon as practicable into a sitting or standing position, since leaving someone face down while handcuffed has proven to be risky, with or without a knee on the neck. Arguments that Floyd’s system was compromised by fentanyl are immaterial to a finding of negligence on the part of Chauvin since officers should presume that any subject may be on drugs or have a health condition that could heighten the risk of a prolonged prone position.  

The jury had to work through the elements of the three charges against Chauvin, none of which required a finding of intent to harm, only negligence, of which there seemed to be plenty of evidence. Procedurally, the trial was straightforward; the jury of Chauvin’s peers did its job and a seemingly logical verdict was reached based on compelling evidence.  

Unfortunately, it may be determined that Chauvin did not receive a fair trial thanks to irresponsible politicians trying to influence a judicial outcome. Richard Nixon was once pilloried for inadvertently referring to Charles Manson as guilty before he was tried. President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE overtly and intentionally urged a guilty verdict for Chauvin during jury deliberations.  

California Congresswoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Tulsa marks race massacre centennial as US grapples with racial injustice Fauci may have unwittingly made himself a key witness for Trump in 'China Flu' hate-speech case MORE called for more street “confrontations” if a guilty verdict was not returned. Her shocking words weren’t a dog whistle; they were an air horn appeal for more riots if the jury didn’t do the “right thing.” It was jury tampering that Tony Soprano would be proud of: “Hey, nice city you got there; it would be a shame if something happened to it.” 

As businesses across the country boarded up in case of a verdict unacceptable to the professional rioters who have been burning and looting for the past year, the Chauvin jury had to make a responsible decision. Were they unduly influenced or intimidated by all of these extraneous factors? We may never know, but the trial judge acknowledged that the defense now has ammunition for an appeal, if not a declaration of mistrial. All because politicians gotta pander.  

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On a second level, the Chauvin-Floyd encounter has taken on exaggerated symbolism ranging from George Floyd as a self-sacrificing figure (thank you, Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May MORE, but, no, he was an unwilling murder victim) to Derek Chauvin representing “White America” with its knee systemically on the necks of people of color.

You get the sense that the guilty verdict returned by the jury is not what many politicians were hoping for. Some seemed to be scrambling to find ways to keep fanning the flames of racial division in this country. The Minnesota attorney general claimed that the verdict did not obtain justice, only a measure of accountability. The president and vice president stressed that systemic racism still infects our nation.  

Neither claim is true, but they do serve a particular political agenda. Justice, according to our laws and Constitution, indeed was served with Chauvin’s guilty verdict. That’s our system. Chauvin will serve time in jail and, according to our rule of law, justice will have been achieved.  

Derek Chauvin, despite his ironic last name (look up “chauvinism”), is not representative of all white people or even all police officers. He failed to exercise proper judgment as someone with police powers and he negligently killed a defenseless person in his custody. Those who read more into it are seeking division, not justice.

That said, many Black Americans sincerely believe that Blacks are treated differently by law enforcement. This cannot stand. We must work diligently to eradicate anything that would contribute to an unequal administration of justice. 

But America is not systemically racist. We are at our core a marvelous multi-racial aggregation of people of good will, neighborly, friendly, generous and courteous to others. The outliers get noticed and pointed to as examples of a sick society. But those doing the pointing have a specific agenda of division and ultimate political power and control. Their sad, cynical narrative will not prevail in the end.  

Kevin R. Brock, former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI, was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He independently consults with private companies and public-safety agencies on strategic mission technologies.