Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Trial So Far

I don't know what it's like anywhere else this week, the week the Derek Chauvin trial started in earnest. 

Jury selection was going on for a few weeks earlier, and resulted in what for Minnesota looks like a jury of George Floyd's peers, as much as that's possible in these parts. Counting the alternates, there are nine white people, four Black people, and two multi-racial people; more than half are women, more than half are under 30. For Minnesota, even for Hennepin County, that's a good outcome for a modern-day trial, though there seem to be too many accountants and such for my taste in the mix, and I think there was biased striking of some Black potential jurors.

Now that the trial portion has started, I've heard that some of these jurors have never watched the videos that were made public. If those were the white jurors, I wonder a bit about those people. Were they so out of touch last spring that they didn't care about a man being murdered by a "public servant"? (Jurors of color, on the other hand, may not have watched it as a means of self-preservation.)

The week's testimony has brought it all back, and moreso, because there has been new information from the witnesses and videos, plus the way Chauvin's attorney has been trying to spin the 12 bystanders into a "mob." One of his earliest statements that caught my attention was implying that the bystanders' behavior was distracting the cops from "caring" for George Floyd. 

They were caring for George Floyd. He used the word caring.

The effect on the witnesses of seeing the killing has been made clear, and I may be wrong, but I think more clear than in any trial I can remember. Those poor people and the guilt they feel, the powerlessness. And now to be blamed by Chauvin's attorney for their feelings of anger and helplessness. This clip of Baratunde Thurston, recorded the evening after the Wednesday testimony, gives a good idea of the kind of effect it is having on people outside the courtroom.

The defense attorney has also started to lay the groundwork for his theory of the case, that George Floyd somehow didn't die because of Chauvin's actions. As one person on Twitter put it, "We know what was in Floyd's blood but why don't we know what was in Chauvin's blood." (Such as... steroids?) Nine minutes and 29 seconds. Nine minutes and 29 seconds. And for how much of that time was George Floyd silent and unmoving?

In the last part of the week we have seen other cops, superior officers to Chauvin, testify that his actions were unnecessary. 

I've heard multiple legal analysts say that Chauvin should have been charged with higher level crimes.

If this man is not convicted, I don't know what it means.


If you want local Minnesota reports/reporters to follow, I suggest:

Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio

Libor Jany, Star Tribune

Mel Reeves, local activist

and Mary Moriarty, former chief public defender for Hennepin County.

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