George Floyd, that video and Biden’s challenge. By Chido Nwangwu
Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston), and the first U.S-based, African-owned professional newspaper on the Internet USAfricaonline.com
At the end of the day, the trial of 45-years old Derek Chauvin, the former police officer whose video-recorded actions of kneeling and pressing his entire weight for more than 9mins led to the death of a 46 year old Black man George Floyd rested on One critical Question: should you believe your eyes or should you believe the pseudo-science technicalities and pulmonary mumbo jumbo presented by the incredible defense attorney Eric Nelson? Or should you believe the Minneapolis prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell who simply advised the jury: “You can believe your eyes, ladies and gentlemen. It was what you thought it was. It was what you saw. It was homicide.”
Without any doubt, the biggest piece of evidence remains that steady, unbroken, clear and contextual cellphone video recorded by an attentive and courageous teenager Darnella Frazier, on May 25, 2020. Both the prosecution and defense attorneys used clips of the video.
NBC News legal issues analyst Danny Cevallos accurately argued that for the defense, in terms of strategy, it was a double-edged sword — although Nelson avoided repeats of the clip showing Chauvin, brutally, kneeling on Floyd’s neck. In Cevallos’ own words: “That video has an audio component and you can hear George Floyd throughout that video. You even hear sometimes Derek Chauvin saying some of the things that the prosecution thought was helpful to their case… Repetition gets emblazoned in jurors’ heads. If they hear this pleading for the life over and over again, it might just sink in.”
Cevallos, a lawyer whose analyses are usually very clear, understandable, commonsensical and rooted in jurisprudence was correct. CNN correspondent Sara Sidner, very hard-working journalist who was inside the courtroom as one of pool reporters on Monday (April 19, 2021, the day the jurors found Chauvin guilty on all counts), agreed, and said: “Seeing that video over and over and over again today was hard to watch, just like it always has been.”
The jurors returned with “Guilty” decisions on all of the three charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
His sentencing is coming up in about 7 1/2 weeks, according to the presiding judge.
Now, let me take us back about a year ago for additional context.
During his campaign to become the President of the United States, then vice president Joe Biden on May 26, 2020 sent a tweet: “George Floyd deserved better and his family deserves justice. His life mattered. I’m grateful for the swift action in Minneapolis to fire the officers involved — they must be held responsible for their egregious actions.”
Also, as a matter of conscience, of good conscience and progressive outlook for the American democracy project, Mr. Biden a few days after that spoke to the much avoided issues of institutional racism and other forms of bigotry set against people of African-American descent especially. I’ll make an extended quotation as Mr. Biden referred to Mr. Floyd’s killing by the Minneapolis Police as the latest “tragic reminder that this was not an isolated incident, but a part of an ingrained systemic cycle of injustice that still exists in this country….. It cuts at the very heart of our sacred belief that all Americans are equal in rights and in dignity, and it sends a very clear message to the black community and to black lives that are under threat every single day…. If some of us can’t count on our freedom, some of us are not free. None — none of us is,” Wolf said. “And we have got to make sure that is something that all of us, every single American, recognizes is something that gets to the heart of our self-interest.”
It is important that I add that Mr. Biden had the courage to speak his truth even at the time when he was not yet the official candidate for president of the Democratic Party. I refer particularly to his appeal and word of caution to his fellow Americans that: “I don’t think we can move forward unless we take aggressive action to rip out the insidious race-based inequalities that corrupt every part of our society.” Biden’s principled position holds lesson for leaders of some countries who are promoters and facilitators of discrimination, bigotry and assorted forms of injustice against some of their own citizens.
Again, I recall that the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. in his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 16, 1963) stated that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Also, as I cited on USAfricaonline.com in 2020, the holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, the late Elie Wiesel in his book ‘Un die welt hot geshvign (And the World Kept Silent)’ later updated as ‘Night’, wrote: “Sometimes we must interfere. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must- at that moment- become the center of the universe.” Hence, understandably, most parts of the world, from Europe to Asia, Africa to South America, the world especially young people rose in unison to protest the injustice of the murder of an innocent African American man.
Today, millions of people around the world “can breathe” easier — no matter how long — following those Minneapolis’ jurors fundamental and unanimous decision to hold that policeman “accountable” for this unjust killing of another human being! Regardless, there are many, more rivers to cross….
—— *Dr. Chido Nwangwu, the author of the forthcoming 2021 book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity, serves as Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet, USAfricaonline.com, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston. He is recipient of several public policy and journalism excellence honors, civic engagement and community empowerment awards and has appeared as an analyst on CNN and SKYnews. He served as an adviser on Africa business to Houston’s former Mayor Lee Brown. @Chido247