Internationally recognized cross-cultural trainer Kathleen Dameron.
“The past weeks have been very traumatizing for African-Americans because it’s Derek Chauvin, who is supposed to be on trial, and yet they were talking about the victim’s life,” said International Diversity Expert Kathleen Dameron.
(San Bernardino, Calif.) Black Americans celebrated this week’s three guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, hopeful that Minnesota jury’s votes to convict the former policeman for killing George Floyd signal a new era in American justice.
In previous cases of Black people killed by police, it was rare for an officer to be charged with any crime, let alone convicted of murder. And in most cases, the Black victims were scapegoated as though they were to blame for their own murders, explained International Diversity Expert Kathleen Dameron, a Black American.
“As soon as the jury convicted Chauvin of murder, there was an enormous sigh of relief in the African-American community,” she said.
“The trial has been hard to watch. It was very traumatizing for African-Americans because it’s Derek Chauvin, who was supposed to be on trial, and yet they were talking about the victim’s life,” said Dameron, a corporate diversity trainer withoffices in San Bernardino and Paris.
“Why did they have to talk about George Floyd’s life? Why did they have to talk about his health? He was not the perpetrator, and yet the defense argument was that he was inherently not worthy of living because he may have done this,or he may have done that.”
Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of second-degree unintentional felony murder, third degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for pinning Floyd’s neck to the ground for 9½ minutes while Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”
Floyd’s death was filmed by horrified bystanders, who repeatedly told police that Floyd was no longer moving and pleaded with them to check his pulse and resuscitate him, according to court documents.
Video of the incident led outraged viewers to rally against racism and police brutality throughout the United States and Europe.
Dameron said the way police violently responded to protests following Floyd’s death, and the convoluted jury-selection process made people question the U.S legal system and America’s commitment to justice.
“And the image of George Floyd being crushed by someone with a smirk on his face, that was seen literally around the world,” she noted.
Acquittals would have further traumatized Black people, said Dameron, who has more than 30 years’ experience training American, European and Asian executives worldwide.
“If the jury had acquitted the cop, it would have been absolutely devastating for what’s left of the legal system in the United States, because we have so much footage of George Floyd coming out of the convenience store, standing handcuffed, not resisting. We have pictures and videos of what happened from the front, from the side, from the back. You have so many people trying to point out that the man’s life is in danger and he’s not dangerous.”
“He’s on the ground, handcuffed with two policemen on his body. Where is the danger? Where is the need to kill him?”
Before the verdicts, there was a “high level of anxiousness in the Black community around a possible acquittal despite world-wide witnessing and condemnation of the murder,” Dameron explained.
“That’s because of the U.S. track record of acquitting police despite live video footage since the Rodney King beating,” she said.
Many Americans and citizens of many countries, as well as Black people who protested against police killing Black people with impunity, are both surprised and pleased at the verdicts.
“George Floyd’s life cannot be restored, but at least the cop who killed him is being held responsible this time. Let’s hope the guilty verdicts are just the beginning of justice for Black people in America, and not a unique occurrence” she said.
Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson told the students to challenge anyone with a negative image of their city. In turn, the teens put out the hashtag #RialtoPride and it immediately began trending among local students. The conversations started to center around why they love Rialto and a movement was begun.
(Rialto, Calif.) She is not from the generation that made Twitter-speak common, but Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson certainly knows her way around a hashtag.
High schoolers and young voters have taken Mayor Robertson’s re-election slogan of #RialtoPride and soon it morphed it into a new nickname for the incumbent mayor — #MayorGetItDoneRobertson.
Mayor Robertson is running for her second term as mayor, and fifth term in Rialto city government. Election Day is November 8. She is also Rialto’s first Black Mayor.
Mayor Robertson chuckled about the name given to her originally by some Rialto High School students after spending the day with her during a mock city council. It shows that beyond economic development and crime statistics, Mayor Robertson – a nearly 30-year resident – has a deep-rooted pride in her city.
“I feel the negative images of cities are often portrayed in TV shows such as ‘Cops,’ “Mayor Robertson said. “Often you see a negative image, yet crime continues to decrease in Rialto. But negatives get the program ratings.”
Mayor Robertson pointed out that in the past five years, violent crime in Rialto has steadily declined and according to city-data.com, Rialto fell below the national average in 2014 and crime continues to drop. Rialto now ranks among the top half in safest communities in San Bernardino County, city-data.com also shows. The unemployment rate in Rialto has steadily dropped since 2013, according to homefact.com and the rate is now at seven percent.
Raised in a military community in San Diego, Mayor Robertson said she learned civic pride at an early age. When new kids came to her elementary school and turned their nose up, she quickly set them straight.
“I grew up in a military town and trying to assimilate into an existing group is stressful,” Mayor Robertson said. “Kids would come in and put us down. Most kids would just listen and feel bad. My friend and I were equalizers. We told them if they didn’t like it, go back to where they came from.”
It was at this mock city council day a year ago that the idea of promoting “Rialto Pride” was initiated. Mayor Robertson said students were starting to ask questions, including why some people weren’t more positive about Rialto.
“I told them, ‘If you don’t stand up for Rialto, who is going to stand up for Rialto?’ “Mayor Robertson said. “You can lead or you can be led. That’s your choice.”
She told the students to challenge anyone with a negative image of their city. In turn, the teens put out the hashtag #RialtoPride and it immediately began trending among local students. The conversations started to center around why they love Rialto and a movement was begun.
For more information about Mayor Deborah Robertson go to: http://www.DeborahRobertson.org.
About Rialto Mayor Deborah Robertson
Deborah Robertson was elected Mayor of Rialto in November 2012 – the latest achievement in a distinguished public service career that has included 12 years on the Rialto City Council, leadership positions at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), and more than 20 years with the California Department of Transportation.
Under Mayor Robertson’s leadership, Rialto has gained regional and national recognition for innovation in the areas of public-private partnerships, business development and job creation. The City’s refinancing and restructuring of its water and wastewater operations has become a model for other communities in California, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.
Mayor Robertson retired from Caltrans in 2011, as Deputy District Director of External Affairs. A native Californian, she holds an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, San Diego, a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the City University of New York Bernard Baruch College and is a National Urban Fellows recipient. She is also a scholarship recipient and past participant of the Southern California Leadership Network.
Mayor Robertson has two children and six grandchildren, that are the joy of her life.