Wednesday, April 21, 2021


In a post last night, I collected racist and paranoid reactions from Gateway Pundit readers to the conviction of Derek Chauvin. In response, a commenter wrote:
... these are ants shaking their fists at elephants. We have finally witnessed the birth of justice of a kind, and I doubt things will be the same ever again. The casual sadism of the worst of cops will not be as casual going forward. Because, assuming the court imposes a serious sentence, every cop knows they are no longer guaranteed a walk for business as usual.
Maybe. Maybe, as the commenter wrote, the Chauvin case was an object lesson in how to convict a police officer. But it seems equally likely that this case was anomalous. Yes, a progressive attorney general took the case very seriously and worked hard for a conviction -- but in addition, the trial took place in a liberal metropolitan area with, in all likelihood, fewer Fox News viewers in the jury pool than the national average.

And then there's the video.

The message cops and their defenders have sent since Rodney King has been: These people are dangerous. They resist arrest. They threaten us. They threaten public safety. There are unfortunate incidents, but only because we have to make split-second decisions in matters of life or death.

But that's not what we saw in the video. Those of us who see the police as too ready to apply lethal force, especially when dealing with people of color, feel that they allow themselves to become excessively adrenalized and then use that as a justification for the application of deadly force, but I suspect that a significant percentage of the public thinks that justifies what cops do -- that, in the heat of the moemnt, it's understandable that a cop would shoot Adam Toledo even though his hands were up, or would reach for the wrong weapon and shoot rather than tase Daunte Wright as he struggled with police during a traffic stop, or, last night, would shoot Makiya Bryant as she fought with two other people.

In the George Floyd footage, Derek Chauvin is calm. He's not making an adrenaline-fueled split-second decision to keep his knee on Floyd's neck as minute after minute passes and Floyd life slips away. We won't see many more videos like that.

And in states run by Republicans -- or states that might be run by Republicans in a few years -- I wonder how the deck might be stacked so there'll be fewer Chauvin verdicts in the future. I see what Republicans are doing to limit protest:
Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have passed bills granting immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters in public streets.

A Republican proposal in Indiana would bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from holding state employment, including elected office. A Minnesota bill would prohibit those convicted of unlawful protesting from receiving student loans, unemployment benefits or housing assistance.

And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed sweeping legislation this week that toughened existing laws governing public disorder and created a harsh new level of infractions...

The Florida law imposes harsher penalties for existing public disorder crimes, turning misdemeanor offenses into felonies, creating new felony offenses and preventing defendants from being released on bail until they have appeared before a judge.
And then there's this:
In Kentucky, where protests following the police killing of Breonna Taylor lasted for months last year, the State Senate passed a bill that would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer with “offensive or derisive” words or gestures that would have “a direct tendency to provoke a violent response.” The measure would have required that those arrested on such a charge be held in jail for at least 48 hours — a provision that does not automatically apply to those arrested on murder, rape or arson charges in Kentucky.
Throughout the George Floyd video, onlookers verbally challenge what the cops are doing. The language isn't always polite. Will it be illegal to do that in red states soon? Will red states give the cops more power to prevent accountability by video? Will those states make it unlawful for blue cities to preserve freedom of speech or assembly in circumstances like this? Will right-wing judges, all the way up to the Supreme Court, say the Constitution isn't a suicide pact and uphold those laws?

I hope it's a new day. I hope there'll be more justice in the future for vicitims of police brutality. But this wasn't a typical case. I don't know whether we'll see more progress in the future or more backlash.

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