Shortly before jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin for second degree murder for killing George Floyd is to begin, a paradoxical, if not weird survey result has emerged. According to USA reporters Susan Page, Sarah Elbeshbishi, and Mabinty Quarshie, last June 60% of survey respondents "described (George) Floyd's death as murder." Stunningly, a USA Today Ipsos Poll shows that number now is down to 36% as
Nearly two-thirds of Black Americans, 64%, view Floyd's death as murder; fewer than one-third of white people, 28%, feel that way. White Americans are more likely to describe it instead as the police officer's "negligence," 33% compared with 16% of Black respondents.
That comes even prior to Chauvin's trial, in which his attorney will propose mitigating circumstances, putting as positive a spin as possible on his client's actions. If murder "occurs when one human being unlawfully kills another human being," it's a little difficult to understand why this might not be murder:
Nonetheless, USA Today found
That said, Americans who have heard at least something about Chauvin's trial say 4 to 1, or 60%-15%, that they hope Chauvin is convicted. That included 54% of white Americans and 76% of Black Americans.
While only thirty-six percent of respondents believed Derek Chauvin committed murder, 60% thought he should be convicted.
The now ex-police officer has been charged with second degree murder. Yet, there is considerable sentiment that an individual who killed someone did not commit murder but should be convicted- and presumably punished- nonetheless. Should he be convicted of assault? shoplifting? offending the deceased?
Among both blacks and whites, "trust to promote justice and equal treatment for people of all races" has fallen toward Black Lives Matter and risen toward "local police and law enforcement." Therefore, there may be an explanation- aside from irrationality or dishonesty- for the finding that many people believe Derek Chauvin did not commit murder but hope that he is convicted.
People- mostly whites but also some blacks- are scared. They fear a resurgence of violence, in Minnesota and elsewhere, if Derek Chauvin is acquitted, even though the protests which followed that incident were overwhelmingly peaceful. However, even before the recent impeachment trial, which featured Republicans promoting a false equivalence between the violent insurrection of 1/6 and last summer's racial justice protests, the GOP had
retreated to the ranks of misinformation, claiming it was Black Lives Matter protesters and far-left groups like antifa who stormed the Capitol — in spite of the pro-Trump flags and QAnon symbology in the crowd. Others have argued that the attack was no worse than the rioting and looting in cities during the Black Lives Matter movement, often exaggerating the unrest last summer while minimizing a mob’s attempt to overturn an election.
People who believe Officer Chauvin committed murder plus those who would welcome conviction of an innocent (as they see it) man equal a majority. Those who recognize that the Chauvin committed a murder do not. It's a little bit of unpleasant reality in the third decade of the 21st century.