For better or worse, I never wrote a post about the killing of George Floyd when it originally happened. To be fair about it, there was a lot of outrageous stuff happening in 2020, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, so much that it was difficult to sit down and write a post about any of it.
As a Houston native, George’s death gathered a lot of local publicity, probably almost as much as it did in and around Minneapolis where it happened. I did not follow the trial all that closely. I did express relief upon learning of the guilty verdict.
While I acknowledge that I have been a frequent critic of law enforcement and the attorneys representing the public (DAs, etc), it is not lost on me that their respective jobs are difficult and potentially dangerous. Despite what may look like a bash-fest on law enforcement and those who work with them, I have tried to reserve my criticism for the most egregious and inexcusable violations of the public trust: shooting and killing defenseless animals (again), “fratboy” games regarding jury trials, law enforcement officers being told to ignore subpoenas, questionable speed traps (that don’t enhance safety, but instead destroy trust in the police), abuse of “official business” parking placards (especially with expired registration/inspection), and likely others I’m not remembering or able to find right now.
The senseless death of George Floyd, that Derek Chauvin caused for whatever reasons, is one such egregious and inexcusable violation of the public trust. In fact, I’m not even sure those words are enough to adequately describe how I feel about it: putrid, thuggish, and patently devoid of decency would be more fitting. This is, put simply, a criminal act, and the very last thing someone who enforces the law, who the public has trusted to arrest criminals and quash crime, should be doing. At the very least, causing a death like this as a law enforcement official should mean never working in law enforcement ever again–and admittedly, even that doesn’t happen anywhere near often enough.
Which brings me to the next point: is 22½ years enough for Pathetic-Excuse-for-a-Human-Being Chauvin?
It has become unfortunately rare for the miserable excuses for human beings who recklessly or intentionally killing people under the color of law to actually be held accountable for it. With that in mind I gave little thought to Thankfully-No-Longer-Officer Chauvin getting less than the maximum sentence until I sat down to write this post. Per a CBS News article:
In a news conference, the family of George Floyd reacted to the sentencing outside of the Hennepin County Government Center. Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said Derek Chauvin’s sentencing “is not enough” and that it’s “like a slap in the face to all of us.”
“I won’t celebrate this. I won’t celebrate it at all,” Williams said. “It’s funny that we got justice, but not enough justice.”
Floyd’s aunt, Angela Harrelson, told CBS News that the sentencing is “bittersweet.”
She said the judge was “too lenient” on Chauvin and that his 22 and 1/2 years behind bars is not the maximum sentence that she had hoped for. “I’m not going to let it steal my spirit and destroy my drive to continue to fight for justice,” Harrelson said.
The state’s sentencing guideline was a mere 12½ years, enhanced because Waste-of-Space Chauvin “abused a ‘position of trust and authority’ and displayed a ‘particular cruelty’ toward Floyd” as mentioned elsewhere in the same article.
My hope was for the judge to issue a maximum sentence as well. That said, 22½ years is rather close to the top end. The judge, with that sentence, sends a clear message that those who derelict the duty to serve and protect in such a putrid and vile manner will face accountability, and human decency will prevail in the end, at least as I see it.
The important thing is that with Thug-That-Used-To-Wear-a-Badge Chauvin behind bars, hopefully we can all breathe now.
Rest in power, George Floyd.