Days Of Tension in Minneapolis gave way to relief for many, and celebration for some, on April 20, when jurors in the criminal trial of ex-police-officer Derek Chauvin returned with a verdict: guilty, guilty, guilty. The expected protests were forestalled, officers in riot gear stood down, and politicians began to wax poetic on what the outcome said about accountability and sacrifice. George Floyd’s “life will have bettered our city,” tweeted Mayor Jacob Frey. “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice,” said Nancy Pelosi, praising a choice that Floyd did not make, nor likely would have made, when he was tortured to death last spring. The march of death continues, meanwhile. Daunte Wright was killed in neighboring Brooklyn Center nine days before the verdict by Officer Kim Potter, who allegedly mistook her gun for a Taser. Facts are still being gathered about the death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio. According to her mother, Bryant had phoned the police to help break up a fight—which she, apparently holding a knife, then joined. She was fatally shot by the police practically as the Chauvin verdict was being announced. The dissonance of these events underscored a theme. More than a legal referendum on Chauvin’s behavior, his trial was a multipronged effort to defend the virtues of policing and to protect the institutional right to mete out needless death. We’ll be here again soon.
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