As Black, Brown and minority America celebrated the guilty verdict in the heinous May 25, 2020 murder of unarmed Black man, 46-year-old George Floyd, we must remember that one conviction in a long line of police brutality cases, spanning nearly 400 years, is not justice. So, pardon me for not jumping up with glee when one white supremacist cop gets taken down because he was caught on camera arrogantly kneeling on the neck of a defenseless George Floyd, comfortable in the belief that he was justified to publicly murder - in broad daylight - a helpless black man and get away with it.
Derek Chauvin knew that historically white cops, and white people in general, are never held to account for the acts of brutality meted out to Black people - men, women and children - and that the two-tiered system of justice was long ago built on a foundation of "white is might and right" and black had better stay back. And even the Chauvin trial exposed the kind of flawed thinking when it comes to white cops and police in general.
Consider this: prosecutor Steve Schleicher opined, "This wasn't policing. This was murder." Unwittingly, he hit the nail on the head in so far as the American superstructure views this coercive arm of the state. Thus, the state's prosecution was partly about redressing the brutal act of police murder and the larger objective of re-legitimizing itself by exceptionalizing Derek Chauvin and an affront to "decent policemen and women" who do their jobs every day and "keep us safe."
Such a deliberate obfuscation is designed to push the narrative that police in the United States are all about "protecting and serving" us. But no amount of spin or, pardon the pun, whitewashing, can obscure the fact that what happened to George Floyd was not exceptional. Truth be told it was typical American policing. And the fact is that police kill an average of three people every day in the United States. One third of all people killed by strangers in the U.S. are killed by police, and many, many more are killed by the system in ways that are less direct.
In the final analysis and in many ways the Derek Chauvin murder trial was both a sub-plot and an attempted divorce between a death-making system and one of its prolific enforcers. Indeed, the system that spawned the Derek Chauvins of this world and unleash them on Black and Brown people was embarrassed by the police overreach and the ensuing outrage at one of its own gone completely rogue. The public trial was also about placating the people and to give the aggrieved masses a sense of satisfaction, and hope that in the end the system of justice will ultimately work. Until the very next time when it has to throw one of its own under the bus for bad behavior.
Police behavior is always explained away as having to do with "reasonableness" and the perception of the officer, as if these two things have all to do with murdering Black and Brown people. We have seen what police reasonableness is all about and how their perception continues to cause the death of innocent Black people. Police "perception" and "reasonableness" are used to explain the "tragic mistake" of a veteran white female cop between her taser and her side arm. That caused the killing of a 20-year-old unarmed Black man. Police reasonableness resulted in the shooting of Breonna Taylor - in her bed. And police perception caused the shooting of a 13-year-old child in a playground playing with a toy gun.
Its either these factors or the dangerous stereotype of the "large angry dangerous Black man" who was not cooperative or obeying a "lawful police order." Then there is the fact that Black and Brown people, especially men, are viewed as prone to criminality, "super predators" they are called. This is used to justify police expansion and powers. All of this is reinformed by a judicial system that is in sync with and rely on the police as partners in enforcing laws. For example, attorney generals and judges work hand in glove with police departments in retaining the unequal and unjust system that victimizes and demonizes Black and Brown people. It is this system that allows police to avoid justice.
Then there is the news machine that law enforcement relies on to buttress its image and get out its messages. Today, people's ideas about cops are gleaned from news stories, which often repeat police lies verbatim, and more often, an endless line of TV cop shows, which spew B-roll propaganda into living rooms every night. They tell deliberately doctored stories about sympathetic, American heroes, "Captain Marvel" cops who are the only thing that stands between us and the worst that society has to offer. This thinking comes in handy when cops police the Black community that is oftentimes portrayed as a haven for criminals and a drug-infested war zone populated by poor people.
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