subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

The Chauvin verdict: a postmortem


Like most of the world, I was so pleased when the jury found Derrick Chauvin guilty of all charges. I can’t say I was surprised, though. The prosecution offered one of the most compelling cases we’ve ever seen. The evidence was overwhelming; Chauvin really had no defense, and his lawyer seemed to sleepwalk through the trial, especially in his closing argument which was a disaster. When the verdict came in so quickly, I knew that it could only be guilty.

I was in downtown Oakland, on my walk, when word came in that the verdict would be announced shortly. In fast order, police officers, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters began gathering, blocking off streets. Had the verdict come in the other way, downtown would have been a war zone last night. Mercifully, that didn’t happen.

It was great seeing the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Minneapolis media event following the verdict. He’s always been one of my heroes. I voted for him in the 1984 California presidential primary, and was thrilled by a campaign speech he gave at San Francisco State University. At the media event, everybody was praising Rev. Al Sharpton, justifiably so, but I was watching Rev. Jackson there in the background, looking old and emotional. I was wishing someone would give him his propers; and then they did. Rev. Al called him his mentor and invited him to speak. What a historic figure Jesse Jackson has been.

And how wonderful it was to see and hear President Biden afterward giving his speech. Had trump still been president, God forbid, does anyone think he would have spoken out? He would have been out on the golf course, or tweeting about Hunter Biden. He wouldn’t have given a damn.

What a long, awful year it’s been. The pandemic was bad enough, the Jan. 6 trump insurrection was horrible, and on top of all that, we had the George Floyd protests. I was happy to hear many of the speakers at the Minneapolis event, including members of George Floyd’s family, thank the protesters around America for keeping the case on the front burner, but I wished that somebody would have denounced the violence that all too often accompanied the protests and, in my opinion, compromised them.

As my readers know, I’m a supporter of the police. I think that all too often, irrational people hate on cops, who after all have a very hard job and are out there risking their lives to protect the rest of us. It baffles and saddens me when I see the graffiti in Oakland about “all cops are bastards” or “kill the police.” At the same time, I, like other Americans, am still learning that some cops are bastards while others, like Derrick Chauvin, are murderers. I fully recognize that police reform must be accomplished. I don’t understand all the details of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has passed the House of Representatives and is now before the U.S. Senate. It seems similar to California Senate Bill 2, which I blogged about last week and said I support. We do have to weed out these bad eggs, whether they’re police recruits or veteran cops.

But I must say I wish that the people so upset about police brutality toward Black people would express equal outrage at the Black-on-Black violence that is tearing the Black community apart. I was listening to NPR this morning and heard a woman, Melina Abdullah (identified as a co-founder of Black Lives Matter L.A.) say, with respect to the Chauvin conviction, she is “fighting…to keep my children safe” from rogue cops. But who is the greater threat to her children–cops, or the gangs that are shooting up cities across America? Even Atlanta’s Black mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, said that Black people “are doing each other more harm than any officer on this [police] force.”

That is the existential issue confronting the Black community, not bad cops. It would be nice to hear, say, Joy Reid, on MSNBC, denounce Black-on-Black violence with as much fervor as she denounces cops. In my city of Oakland, more Black men will die this year alone as a result of gang violence, than have been killed by cops in Oakland’s entire history. That seems to me to be a horror and a tragedy worth protesting in the streets.

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts