Perspectives After the Trial

5 mins read
George Floyd March, April 20, 2021
Minneapolis, March 7, 2021

I watched most of the Derek Chauvin trial, as I am sure many in this country may have done, or at least seen snippets as they watched their preferred evening news venues.

A confession: I watched much more of the prosecution’s case than I did the defendant’s. Not that there was much to it beyond asking jurors to put themselves inside the minds of a “reasonable officer” a million times. 

Which missed the point that Chauvin was on trial because he did an unreasonable thing: he and three other officers lay on the prone body of George Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds … long beyond the point when Floyd had no pulse and should have been rolled over for resuscitation. 

Like everyone, I found it emotionally grueling to watch the video in this trial over and over again. It was bad enough the first time I saw the original clip from social media and knew I had just watched — with my own eyes — someone being murdered outside a screenplay rendition. 

Chauvin was expressionless, almost nonchalant, in the way he killed George Floyd. I am convinced I saw him shift his full weight onto his left knee in that video, as if in deliberate defiance of the small crowd of people begging him to let Floyd get up and have someone render aid.

I never even thought about how much additional weight all that police hardware added to his own until it was mentioned at trial. 

I never considered how the compression of George Floyd’s body from the weight of all those officers atop him and the asphalt beneath him further constricted his ability to breathe. 

I just knew you can’t put your full body weight on someone’s neck for that long without impairing the flow of oxygen to the brain. And I knew I watched a man die.

Chauvin was without emotion as he sat throughout his trial as well, until they started reading all the guilty counts against him. Then his eyes darted everywhere above his Covid-compliant mask, as if he could not believe what he was hearing. 

Can a man be that smug and cavalier about not just the life he took, but also his own? 

I really know nothing about Chauvin beyond that 9 minutes and 29 seconds of video. My sense of him as he wrote, wrote, wrote God knows what on his legal pad every day is that he has no real connection to people and the world. Or that his perceptions are all preconceived, as they were when he walked onto the scene of George Floyd’s arrest. 

Big Black man, under the influence, resisting. 

Chauvin’s assessment never went beyond that point, not even seemingly during his own trial.

I have no experience of being Black in America. I am about as lily-white as it gets. I grew up in rural Indiana literally eating Wonder Bread sandwiches with butter and sugar on them at lunchtime.

But I have had enough experience with diverse people to know that while we may have cultural differences, from a human point of view we are most of us emotionally crafted the same way; want the same things out of life; mourn when those we love most die; and are changed in incalculable ways because of it.

There is nothing that separates us as emotional beings except the shades of our skin, because God loves so much color in His world.

Hopefully one day everyone will understand this, so there are no more wars, no more hate, no more killings of the George Floyds of this world. 

Then our deaths will really be a natural transition from this world to whatever awaits us after. 

Graphic from 

Feature image by Chad Davis from United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Please read the recent photoessay created by DemCast staff, Racism and Police Brutality: “I Can’t Breathe.”

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Cheryle Johnson is a former reporter, PR/HR Manager living in Metro Atlanta. She is an award winning journalist and poet.

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