“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.