Pictured: In the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, Black Lives Matter protestors gather at Simi Valley City Hall on June 6, 2020. Photo by Kimberly Rivers.
by Paul Moomjean
It was as clear as day. May 25, 2020. George Floyd’s neck, face and chest planted into the streets by former police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee, as civilians stood by in horror and Chauvin’s fellow police partner told pedestrians there was nothing to see. Riots ensued shortly after Chauvin’s actions lead to the death of Floyd, causing people to go to the streets, both Black and white, in hopes of making sure the police didn’t brush Chauvin’s actions under the blue rug, behind the blue wall. Almost one year later, Chauvin was convicted on all three counts of murder, including second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Most Americans believe justice was served, but our loudest voices continue to miss the mark, making this only about race and political movements.
One of the narratives I found most disturbing was conservative hot shot Ben Shapiro desperately wanting Chauvin to walk free, painting George Floyd as a lifelong criminal, high on drugs, and Chauvin as some sort of Captain America keeping Floyd from being a danger to others and himself. Once the verdict was announced, Shapiro backtracked a bit, tweeting that Chauvin’s conviction for “murder rather than manslaughter was incorrect, in my view of the evidence.” Shapiro sounded off that the disgraced officer was convicted of being racist.
Yet, the prosecution didn’t make this about race. It was about abuse of power. We might believe Chauvin was racist, but this isn’t Mark Fuhrman from the O.J. Simpson trial/Los Angeles Police Department. The facts lead toward Chauvin’s irresponsible and reprehensible behavior. Floyd became the symbol of anti-police brutality, instead of just being the man he was. Now the actions against him weren’t the only evidence looked at. It became about cops, drugs and race, not just the tragic death of a man who didn’t deserve to die in that moment.
But that didn’t stop Democrats from forgetting the facts and focusing on political agendas.
The Wall Street Journal op-ed pages detailed how Rep. Maxine Waters of California (Los Angeles) went to Minnesota to rally the troops: “[When she] was asked whether she was inciting violence by telling the demonstrators arrayed around her in Brooklyn Center, Minn., to ‘get more confrontational,’ she responded with the politician’s user-key response that she isn’t ‘about violence.’”
This coming from the same person who infamously yelled, “No justice! No peace!” during the Rodney King trial.
While Waters remained on brand, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi went off the rails, by rewriting history as if George Floyd was a civil rights leader. “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice,” Pelosi said at an event with the Congressional Black Caucus. “And because of you, your name will always be synonymous with justice.”
What makes all these inflammatory statements so damaging is that Shapiro, Waters and Pelosi turned the tragedy of Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s inability to protect and serve into fodder for their own agenda. Shapiro’s agenda is to make all conservative white people feel the world is after them. Waters’ agenda is to make all police officers look like monsters. And Pelosi’s agenda is to pander to anyone who might give her money. It’s all so sad and cynical, but the pundits and politicians are not for the American people — they are for their own spin to rule the day.
Then there is former president George W. Bush. While on the Today show, the ex-president was asked about the trial and result. His answer cut to the real heart of the matter:
“I think the first thing is . . . that people know that the trial has been conducted fairly. And that rule of law reigns supreme in our judiciary. We’ll see what a jury of his peers says, you know, I think a lot of people have already made up their mind what the verdict ought to be,” he told anchor Hoda Kotb. “All I can tell you is that if the trial is not conducted fairly, there is an appeal process.”
The American people just want to see the system play out fairly. Chauvin was rightly convicted. Anyone who believes he should have walked has their issues on race and blind obedience to authority to work out. There are many things to take away from this trial, but maybe the most important is that the system is working. It’s not perfect, but it’s getting better.