Earning Trust in Minneapolis

Today, I heard someone who sounded like a spokesperson for the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office say that the arrest of Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd was the fastest in which a police officer had ever been charged for the death of someone in custody. *Photo by Fibonacci Blue, wikimedia commons.

He said that like that was a badge of honor.

He is sadly mistaken. This was as close to an open and shut case as one could possibly have, with abundant evidence to prove it…and the prosecutors waited an eternal 90 or so hours to even hint that they recognized that.

I get part of that. I’m a former law professor. Lawyers are trained to be methodical: it’s important to get all your ducks in a row before you say anything, because anything you say in a rush can and will be used to make you look like an idiot.

It also means that most lawyers aren’t good in a crisis. They try to figure everything out when events are evolving around them at warp speed.

I get that.

But….

C’mon folks. The evidence they had was even worse than what we saw on the initial video. George Floyd was being held down by three cops, not just Chauvin.

Chauvin continued to keep his knee on Floyd’s neck for two to three minutes after other officers reported no pulse. A man can’t resist arrest if his heart isn’t beating.

Even when he was released, nobody attempted CPR.

The only question ever was what degree of murder to charge. And the other officers, at a minimum, certainly look like accessories.

We are told the others will most likely be charged eventually. But again, how long does it take to figure that out?

There has also been talk about the need to restore trust. But trust has to be earned, and everything they’ve been doing has made it look like the primary goal is to protect their own until forced by overwhelming evidence to do otherwise.

I sometimes wonder how I would react if a member of my “tribe” was accused of doing something awful. Would I react as the Minneapolis police and prosecutor appear to be doing and try to protect my group for as long as possible? Hopefully not.

What I know now is that it’s a good thing people of all races are protesting. If we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic, with old-guy me in the high-risk group, I’d join them.

Though I’d also remember Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The way you win, no matter how angry you are, is by having the self-control to be better than your opponents.

Since the opponents, including our President, are setting a low bar, that should be easy.

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