“Guilty, guilty, guilty.” The collective verdict of the twelve jurors in the murder of George Floyd made the crowd in front of the Minneapolis courtroom breathe a sigh of relief. Likewise, millions of Americans were relieved who took to the streets last summer to demonstrate against racist police violence. Now they have a feeling that their protest has paid off and that something has changed in the country.
President Joe Biden said yesterday that the sentence indicting 45-year-old Derek Chauvin, among other things, of second-degree murder, was “a giant step on the march for greater justice.” Conservative voices spoke somewhat cautiously of “fair” rule.
Judgment with questionable effect
However, one can doubt whether the verdict will really have a profound effect. Because Floyd’s death was extraordinary in some ways. Although he died during a police operation due to a minor infraction, as thousands of African Americans are every year. But the circumstances of his death were atypical.
For example, he was defenseless, although mostly guns were used. Therefore, the defense could not make credible that Floyd would have posed a danger that would have justified the violent restraint by Chauvin.
There was also a group of eyewitnesses who not only tried to prevent the crime, but also photographed it. So the killing happened in broad daylight and in front of the cameras.
The verdict of guilt was almost inevitable
The facts of disproportionate police violence were so clear that Chauvin’s indictment was almost inevitable. This is why the Public Prosecution office completely refrained from speculating on the motive of the perpetrator. The issue of racism was not mentioned once during the process.
Equally oddly enough, many Minneapolis police officers and superiors incriminated their former colleague. The ranks of men in uniform are usually close to the court.
An exception in many respects
The Black Lives Matter’s drive to celebrate judgment as a forerunner may be understandable. But in many ways, the murder of George Floyd is an exceptional case, albeit one that will go down in the history of the American civil rights movement.
US Correspondent, SRF
After studying in the USA and Bern, Jacobi worked for SRF from 1999 to 2005. Then, she worked as a freelance journalist in New York. In 2008, she returned to SRF as a producer at Echo der Zeit and became editor-in-chief in 2012. Jacoby has been the USA correspondent in Washington since the summer of 2017.