By Jim Hayes
Two days ago, the Minneapolis police officer who brutally murdered George Floyd, caused an upheaval in American society, and made the world notice, received a 22 years and 6 months prison sentence. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill handed down the term in prison for second-degree murder while committing a felony, third degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
“For once, a police officer who wrongly took the life of a Black man was held to account. While this shouldn’t be exceptional, tragically it is. Day after day, year after year, police kill Black people without consequence. But today, with Chauvin’s sentence, we take a significant step forward — something that was unimaginable a very short time ago,” said Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing the Floyd family.
Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for murder of George Floyd
Video from Guardian News
There was no other choice. The world has been watching and failure to deliver a long sentence would have sparked a new wave of anger across the United States. Although the judge denied that the result involved nothing other than the law, it has been the scale of the reaction that has prevented the usual slap on the wrist for police officers who kill black people.
Floyd’s family and supporters outside the court remained unsatisfied. They wanted the maximum and remained unconvinced that this will bring meaningful change. More killings at the hands of police are expected.
Crowd Reacts Outside Courthouse After Chauvin Sentencing
Video from NBC News
Even so, many on George Floyd’s side, including his family, feel that the sentence was too lenient. Chauvin faced a maximum of 40 years. The sentence was just over half of this, and with good behaviour, he could be freed in about 15 years.
The defence team was right about one thing. The ultimate culprit is a police system that generates racism. They called it a broken system. Far more important than a single killer is whether there is going to be enough change to make a real difference in the future.
The signs aren’t encouraging. Minnesota’s top Democratic and Republican politicians moved quickly to agree on a ‘public safety bill,” which includes police accountability measured.
Wheeling and dealing have meant a watered down version of what was originally proposed.
Any answer demands proper measures across the United States. This is not happening. In part, because of state jurisdictions. Killings will continue, for as long as the police are organised to subjugate the African American population.
keep the African American population especially, but also other non-white and working class Americans under subjugation. This is what breeds racism, intolerance, and violence.
Contrary to the claim, democracy does not figure highly in the United States. The political system and many of the politicians serving it beholden to Wall Street. They will continue to supervise a dictatorship. This is a dictatorship of big money and privilege over the nation.
Real change would mean having a police force that builds strong ties to communities because the job of officers would be to protect and serve these communities.
Even within this limited possibilities existing, it is still possible to make some headway. But it is bleedingly obvious that the political institutions look for every means to avoid this. They are still vulnerable to pressure, and this is what Americans seeking justice are working to apply.
Supporting this is a world reacting to the whole George Floyd story and expecting the United States to act and stop the killings.
It may just be, Washington will finally be forced to make some worthwhile concessions.