The landmark judgement of Tuesday over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman, Derek Chauvin drew multiple and diverse responses that transcends the national boundaries of the United States.
This iconic verdict is of the moment not only for African Americans but Latinos, Hispanics, native Americans and other minority groups who before now were subsisting on fringe truce and lesser verdicts.
Already, the murder episode had assumed a global status driven by mainstream international media establishments, supported by social media and plethora of below-the-line sources. These media hypes formed a loop ensuing in congregation of heterogeneous audience. The pictorial narrative of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes twenty-nine seconds was streamed and watched globally.
The scenario in the whole episode leading to the verdict could be aptly described as suspense. The entire country felt the aura of the moment. In Minneapolis as in other cities in US, businesses shut doors and boarded up windows in anticipation of violent protests should the verdict tilt Chauvin’s way. The government deployed 3,000 National Guard troops in Minneapolis and same number for Washington DC to help keep the peace which was extended in graduated manner to other locations in US.
And contextualizing the judgement, the 12 jurors scheduled to adjudicate and submit inputs were burdened positively though, to scale up and deliver appropriate judgement unlike past happenings of police killings of persons from minority communities yet absolved of the crime in court. The jurors were not oblivious that inappropriate verdicts would stoke mass and violent protests
The clamour for police reform in the US has festered for decades before now though institutionally suppressed. Voices are now climbing and becoming more deafening, seizing the moment.
Policing in Minneapolis relative to other states in the US has recorded in recent times optic in police brutality. The local occurrences in the milieu of Floyd’s murder trial are the killing of a 20-year-old black man in nearby Brooklyn Centre on April 11 by a white police woman and the killing of a 16-year-old black girl in the State of Ohio.
The trend has prompted the US Justice Department to open a sweeping investigation into the manner of policing in Minneapolis and the entire State of Minnesota.
The Lens position is that the reform would slowly but steadily change the perception of individual police officer thereby achieving over time, the ideal threshold of standard policing in the US.
The Lens Newspapers take away is that the episode being a movement would nurture and define the new path going forward, towards undoing the decades of police brutality and killings of blacks and other minority folks in the US. Other countries should cue in especially those with baggage history of using brute force in policing.
WE think the judgement though not panacea to hundred per cent reversal of the decades of bad policing, is surely a crucial first step forward to deliver critical lifeline to American families, particularly the vulnerable.