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Sprinkles from the Left

The Left overwhelmingly thinks Chauvin should be found guilty of murder (84% ‘Yes’; 11% ‘Not Sure’; 4% ‘No’; YouGov).

Liberal commentators believe the prosecution has met the burden of proof for murder, citing witness testimony. Many also use Chauvin and the trial as an example of the cultural and systemic problems present in many U.S. police departments and society as a whole.

“On the witness stand, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that in putting his knee on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds (longer than the 8 minutes, 46 seconds we all thought), Chauvin was in blatant violation of the department’s policies…

This is not to subscribe to the notion that everything that’s wrong with policing in America is the result of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. While the vast majority of cops protect and serve with decency and integrity, many departments have chronic problems ingrained in the very culture of the way they enforce the law. Too many cops have a habit of dehumanizing those with whom they deal, especially Black and brown people.

The fact that Chauvin had been the subject of at least 17 misconduct complaints throughout his career and remained on the force is a searing comment of the force for which he worked.

But no fair-minded person can call Derek Chauvin’s actions last May 25 an extension of ordinary policing. Whether or not it is deemed to be murder or manslaughter in a court of law, what he did to George Floyd was a distortion of the cop’s creed. It was a perversion of duty. Policing is not on trial; one former cop is.”

Editorial Board, New York Daily News

“During closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Steve Schleicher rightly and methodically humanized Floyd. He talked about his family and childhood. He reminded jurors and all of us watching: Floyd was a human being. He was a 46-year-old man. And but for Chauvin’s assault on him, he would likely be alive today.

“George Floyd’s final words on May 25, 2020, were: ‘Please, I can’t breathe.’ He asked for help with his very last breath,” Schleicher said. “This was a call about a counterfeit $20 bill. All that was required was compassion.”

Compassion.

Did Chauvin exhibit even a sliver of it last Memorial Day on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue?

Did we see compassion when he repeatedly readjusted his body to apply more pressure to Floyd’s neck as he screamed out in pain, calling for his mother?

Did we see compassion when onlookers begged for mercy on Floyd’s behalf?

Did we see compassion when an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and trained emergency medical technician stood pleading with Chauvin to allow her to help Floyd?

The answer is unequivocally no.”

Suzette Hackney, USA Today

“The trial could have been a moment of national catharsis — at least, that’s what pundits hoped and politicians begged for after the protests of last summer, police department feints at becoming more kind, solemn statements from statehouses and courthouse steps.

Instead, it became mere background to more of the same.

This Sunday, as the trial paused, police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., (less than 10 miles from where Chauvin is on trial for the death of George Floyd) pulled over Daunte Wright while he was driving, citing a traffic violation. Air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror, Wright told his mother. An expired tag, the police department said. Either way, not capital offenses. Wright attempted to get back into his car, and a police officer shot him to death. Allegedly, she mistook her gun for her Taser. She has, at least, resigned and been charged with manslaughter.

As it turns out, Floyd’s girlfriend, who had cried while testifying at Chauvin’s trial just a few days earlier, was Wright’s former high school teacher. A young witness at the Chauvin trial spoke about how Floyd could have been one of her own cousins, her uncle, her father or friend. I didn’t need to watch it live to see how clearly police violence traumatizes whole communities, how it ricochets across generations.

The Brooklyn Center police department’s response to protests there was to string up a “thin blue line” flag above the building, removing it only after an outcry online. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, threatened to send in “the largest police presence in Minnesota history” to arrest and charge those protesting the fact that a 20-year-old was shot dead by the police during the trial of a man crushed to death by the police.

As if this isn’t the most American response — as we saw in D.C. and across the United States last summer. The people want fewer police — send more of them. De-escalation training? How about we militarize them instead? “Investment in communities”? How about a robot police dog to terrify and harass you, as if the real ones aren’t frightening enough?

Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s trial could be teaching America a lesson, but it clearly is not one that all of us are ready to learn.”

Christine Emba, Washington Post ($)

Sprinkles from the Right

The Right is split on whether or not Chauvin should be found guilty of murder (31% ‘Yes’; 33% ‘Not Sure’; 36% ‘No’; YouGov).

Conservative commentators waver on whether the prosecution has met the burden of proof, citing Floyd’s drug use and heart condition, and stress the trial should not be indicative of policing as a whole. Many also focus on the current political climate and society as a whole, with some saying the trial was influenced by public pressure.

“To gain a conviction, prosecutors need only prove that Chauvin was the “substantial” cause of death, not the sole cause.

The sequence of events captured on digital cameras shows that Floyd was alive until the defendant pressed his knee on the back of his neck and back while he was prone and handcuffed on the ground. Only then did Floyd stop breathing and his heart stopped.

No reasonable jury could conclude that Chauvin did not substantially cause Floyd’s death by depriving him of precious oxygen. The officer’s excessive use of force was deliberate which supports the top charge of second-degree murder —an intentional assault resulting in death.

At the very least, the defendant committed a dangerous act “evincing a depraved mind” and was grossly negligent which supports the lesser charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, respectively.”

Greg Jarrett, Fox News

“There can be no credible doubt that the police restraint was a material cause of Floyd’s death. But there is immense reason to doubt that he would have died from the restraint alone, if it had not acted in concert with, and exacerbated, Floyd’s profound health problems.

If Chauvin could plausibly have believed that the restraint techniques he and the other cops were using would not have caused serious harm to a normal person — to say nothing of a person strong enough to fight off four cops despite being cuffed behind his back — then it will be difficult for a jury to find, unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt, that Chauvin intended to cause Floyd serious physical harm.

Chauvin’s errors of judgment were inexcusable (that’s why he should be convicted of manslaughter), but it appears that his intention was to hold Floyd in check until the EMTs the police had summoned arrived to provide Floyd with medical care.

If it were not for the fraught atmosphere, and the heavy political and social pressure to convict, I do not believe that a jury would render a guilty verdict on second-degree murder. Indeed, I don’t think prosecutors would have charged it.

Don’t misunderstand me: I am not saying that such a guilty verdict would be irrational. The police did use excessive force. If the jury does convict Chauvin of second-degree felony murder on this record, the verdict will stand. But the fact that a choice is rational does not necessarily make it the right choice.

I would convict Chauvin of manslaughter, but not of murder.”

Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

“There have surely been miscarriages of justice—acquittals of guilty people and convictions of innocent ones—throughout history. The jury system is never perfect.

But what’s frighteningly new about our current climate is that the rejection of apparently unwelcome trial outcomes is now part of the dominant progressive critique of our longstanding political and civic order.

If U.S. institutions are the product of white-supremacist exploitation—as is essentially the consensus of the people who run the government, most corporations, and leading cultural institutions—then the judicial system itself is inherently and systemically unjust. If the principle of equality before the law is to be supplanted by the objective of “equity” in outcome, then only outcomes that serve the higher objective of collective racial justice can be considered legitimate.

So trials that produce the “wrong” verdict are not just miscarriages of justice. They are an indictment of the entire system.

The ascendancy of this new progressive radicalism adds a frightening element to the unease the nation feels this week as the jury deliberates in Minneapolis. By all accounts the trial of Mr. Chauvin has been rigorous, methodical and fair. The prosecution seemed to make a strong case that Mr. Floyd died at least in part as a result of the officer’s actions. The defense may have sowed some doubts about whether Mr. Chavin’s intent rose to the level of culpability required of the most serious charges.

But under our new rules, the jury’s verdict will be tolerated only if it goes the ‘right’ way.”

Gerard Baker, Wall Street Journal