Friday, April 23, 2021

The Public Seeing Clearly

Miriam E. "Mimi" Rocah, now Westchester County, NY district attorney and formerly a legal contibutor (better than an illegal contributor) at MSNBC, understands that aside from cases involving a police killing

Police departments and prosecutors must be more proactive in vigorously pursuing much lesser forms of misconduct, such as lying on police reports about confidential informants, having the consent to conduct searches, or other matters; excessive use of force in restraining an uncooperative detainee; and off-duty road rage incidents.

In the piece published by CNN, she maintains also that Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd because of

three factors: The prosecutors did their job and treated this case and Chauvin's actions like any other case, without special treatment because he was a police officer; the murder was recorded on video; and an unprecedented number of fellow law enforcement witnesses, including the Minneapolis police chief, testified that Chauvin's actions were antithetical to police practice and standards.

Even Tucker Carlson, with a perspective on the case far different than that of Rocah, probably wouldn't contest any of those three. However, he argues (at 3:31 of the video below)

Mobs trying to influence this trial should shock and horrify at least as much as the George Floyd video did. This is a picture of a country moving backward at high speed.

Actually, the speed at which the country is moving backward has slowed considerably (if not reversed), given that we no longer have a President who would accuse Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Adam Schiff of treason and Andrew McCabe of criminal corruption. However, Carlson did emphasize

The strange thing is that most people didn't seem shocked or upset by any of this. They seemed relieved by the verdict. They watched the troops in the street and understood what an acquittal woud mean. They believed that a conviction justified or not would buy the country peace. Many people thought so, including many Republicans. Some said so..... Derek Chauvin had to sacrifice for the sins of a nation. They told us.

"They" turns out to be Nancy Pelosi, who crudely remarked "Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice" and was criticized by both left and right.

We will never know for sure whether jurors convicted Chauvin in part because of the ramifications to civil peace of a not guilty verdict. No one will say "I voted for conviction, which will mean a long jail sentence, because I was intimidated."

And to be fair- perhaps more than he usually deserves- Carlson was not referring to jurors but rather to "most people," whom he argued "didn't seem shocked by any of this," by "mobs trying to affect this trial." Fortunately, we have one piece of startlingly evidence by which the validity of Carlson's claim may be tested.

On March 5, USA Today shockingly noted

Last June, 60% in a USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll described Floyd's death as murder; that percentage has now dropped by double digits to 36%. Uncertainty has grown about how to characterize the incident, caught on video, when Chauvin held his knee on Floyd's neck and ignored his protests that he couldn't breathe. Last year, 4% said they didn't know how to describe it; that number has climbed to 17%....

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 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.

If the survey from earlier this year accurately- or even nearly accurately- reflects public sentiment, a huge number of people believe Derek Chauvin should be convicted of a murder he did not commit. 

Don't think too long about why people believe a police officer, one in a valued "first responder" profession, should do hard time for something he didn't do. You don't have to. Because like him or not- and most of us don't- Tucker Carlson has just told us why.


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