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Fatal Police Violence: First Trial in the George Floyd Case | Free press

Minneapolis (AP) – For more than eight minutes, the white police officer kneels on the neck of unarmed African-American George Floyd. “I can’t breathe,” the 46-year-old pleads several times before falling silent forever.

However, the officer Derek Chauvin keeps sticking his knee in his neck, ignoring screaming passersby. Videos have captured the brutal police operation. After that, numerous protesters in the United States called for “justice for George”. Now expectations are high: Chauvin will be tried from Monday.

Many people, including perhaps most black Americans, are hoping for a long sentence. For a verdict that sends a signal against racism and police brutality – a signal that violence against black people in the US will not go unpunished. However, if the court in Minneapolis, northern Minnesota, imposes a low sentence on Chauvin or releases him, there could be another wave of protests.

Floyd’s fate, along with the pandemic and election campaign, was one of three big events shaping 2020 in the US. The brutal murder of the black man on May 25 reopened the deep wounds of racism. There was outrage throughout the country. Despite the Corona requirements, there were massive protests against police brutality and racism for weeks. Many observers spoke of the largest wave of protests since the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Almost everywhere during protests there were posters with inscriptions like ‘Black Lives Matter’ (for example: Black lives are important), ‘No Justice, No Peace’ (no justice, no peace) or ‘White Silence, White Violence’ (white silence, white violence). Observers such as former President Barack Obama noted that never before have so many whites taken to the streets for black rights.

More than 150 years after the abolition of slavery and more than five decades after full legal equality for blacks in the United States, much remains to be done. The structural disadvantage of the minority, which makes up about 13 percent of the population, has many facets: blacks live shorter lives on average and are less educated than whites. Studies have shown that the net worth of the average white family is as much as ten times that of a black family. In addition, African Americans and blacks are significantly more likely to be victims of police violence.

Racism in everyday life is often much more subtle. Over the weekend, for example, many American media reported an incident involving black poet Amanda Gorman, who became famous for her poem at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. A security officer followed her in front of her home in the evening because she “looked suspicious,” the 22-year-old reported. “This is the reality for black girls: one day they call you an icon, the next a threat,” she wrote on Twitter.

The murder of Floyd and the protests have sparked a lot in the United States. Statues of figures accused of slavery or oppression of blacks disappeared from the public eye. Celebrities donated to organizations that fight racism. Companies pledged to provide more targeted support to members of minorities. There were also changes in professional sports, from the National Football League (NFL) to the Football Association.

Several states and cities have implemented police reforms to prevent excessive use of force. For example, they banned police officers from strangulation and neck rests, or restricted the officers’ immunity. There were only limited changes at the federal level, thanks in large part to then-US President Donald Trump and his Republicans. A few days ago, the House of Representatives passed a law named after George Floyd for police reform. The Senate has yet to give its approval – and it is uncertain whether the necessary majority will be obtained there.

Floyd’s death also marked a turning point for the US election campaign, especially as it electrified blacks, minority members, and many whites as well: Trump mostly complained about allegedly violent protesters and did not want to see any signs of structural racism in the US. . However, Biden was behind the movement and campaigned for the fight against racism. The Democrat and his black vice president Kamala Harris now rule the White House – thanks in no small part to the support of many blacks.

Chauvin’s trial begins with the selection of the jury, the main trial does not begin until March 29. The court has already been cordoned off with concrete barriers and fences, the police are large-scale and soldiers of the National Guard have been mobilized. The security forces want to allow peaceful protests, but also prevent riots like the one following Floyd’s death.

The police officer, who has since been released and on bail, is charged with second-degree murder without intent. They are detained for up to 40 years. According to German law, this would be more like murder. The indictment also charges Chauvin with second degree manslaughter. This can also be punished with 10 years in prison. An appeals court ruled Friday that Chauvin could also be charged with third-degree murder. There is up to 25 years in prison – but this decision could delay the process a little more.

Given the evidence, Chauvin’s jail term seems very likely. However, the question is whether the court will also find him guilty of murder. The length of the prison sentence depends on this. Letters from his attorneys suggest they are trying to argue that the use was justified because Floyd resisted. They also claim – contrary to the official autopsy – that Floyd’s death was due to his ill health and drug residues in his blood.

Police arrested Floyd on suspicion of paying with a fake $ 20 bill. The other three ex-police officers involved in the operation are charged with complicity in second-degree murder and manslaughter. You are out on bail and must appear in court from 23 August. If convicted, they face lengthy prison terms.

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