“The moral arc of history is long, but it leans toward justice.” The quote attributed to Martin Luther King , so often used by Barack Obama and so many times reduced to an empty rhetorical flourish, has been reaffirmed this Tuesday.
The popular jury in charge of sentencing in the trial of the white cop who killed African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis nearly a year ago has spoken. Derek Chauvin is guilty of all three charges he faced : second degree murder, third degree murder and reckless manslaughter.
The decision was adopted with the unanimity of the 12 members of the jury, as was mandatory, and arrives during the second day of deliberations. A denouement celebrated throughout the country that will serve to prevent the new social outbreak that many anticipated.
The jury’s options in the George Floyd death trial
In Harlem the bells rang, in Minneapolis the hugs flew and in Washington the firecrackers spoke. “It seems like a new day, as if this country finally recognizes the humanity of blacks, ” said an African-American man before the cameras.
This verdict was the escape valve that much of the country, including President Joe Biden , had been waiting for in a case that has kept Americans in suspense due to the explosive ramifications it entailed.
The United States has imprinted on its retina the chilling brutality that Chauvin deployed to end Floyd’s life. A portly but unarmed man who was arrested for paying for a pack of cigarettes with an allegedly counterfeit $ 20 bill.
He paid for it with his life, suffocated for nine minutes and 29 seconds under the knee of the agent , who did not even deign to take his hand out of his pocket while Floyd was dying, invoking his mother like a big child and repeating “I can’t breathe” while his conscience was fading.
The macabre coldness exhibited by Chauvin , his ruthless indifference to the life of this black man, brought millions of Americans to relive the old traumas of the past, so prevalent in the daily lives of African Americans, from the lynchings of Emmet Till and Rodney King to the vestiges of that apartheid system – called here segregation – that still prevails in housing, access to credit, education or justice.
Floyd’s assassination set off the largest racial protests since civil rights days , with aftershocks in various world capitals, a chapter that is temporarily closed today.
The verdict has come after three weeks of trial , in which the prosecution presented dozens of witnesses, from forensic doctors to experts in the use of force and even the hierarchy of the Minneapolis police, which harshly condemned the actions of his subordinate .
Since then, the fear in the country was notable at the possibility that the streets would be lit up again with a verdict that would fall short of the expectations of justice that so many demanded.
The sentence remains to be known
“ I pray that the verdict is correct . In my opinion, the evidence is overwhelming. And I would not say this if the jury was not incarcerated at this time, “said Biden hours before the outcome. The sentence for Chauvin will have to wait a few days, although only the second degree murder charge carries a penalty of up to 40 years in prison.
Chauvin attended his appointment with history dressed in a suit with a haughty gesture and a challenging look . He did not gesture or show the slightest sign of contrition, but as the “culprits” fell on each of the charges, his eyes began to dance sideways, as if confusion and years of sandwiched life began to take shape. your brain.
The black leaders , who participated in vigils and demonstrations in recent weeks in Minneapolis, had warned that latent frustration on the streets was called to overflow if the verdict did not meet expectations.
“We cannot condone this inhuman America , we cannot condone the evil we witnessed in the arrest video,” Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the families of Floyd and Daunte Wright , the black twentysomething and Unarmed man killed last week during a police check in a Minneapolis suburb.
Crump made it clear that the protests would continue if justice was not done, an idea that Democratic deputy Maxine Waters redounded by asking the public to adopt a “more belligerent” and “active” stance if the verdict is not up to the circumstances.
Military deployment in Minneapolis
With the razor in the neck of the country , no city walked so accentuated on the wire as Minneapolis, armored with barbed wire and concrete walls, and taken over by armored vehicles and thousands of armed soldiers with camouflage fatigue.
The Minnesota governor has wanted to prevent a repeat of the pandemonium that triggered Floyd’s death in May, an explosion of looting and destruction that left a bill of 350 million dollars.
But many citizens have compared the deployment to a full-blown military occupation , which has only exacerbated tension and fear. A perception accentuated by the hundreds of arrests made during the Wright death protests, unceremoniously dispersed with riot gear.
The country now breathes a sigh of relief . The justice so often denied to the victims of police abuses, has materialized. A full stop with a happy ending in the complicated racial history of the United States.