The recent trial of a former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who was convicted of killing a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, is a landmark case on law enforcement in the racial justice of the United States.
The trial has prompted an investigation into potential racism and repression within the American policing system.
Happening almost one year after Floyd’s death on May 25 last year dubbed 929—for nine minutes and 29 seconds it took Chauvin to kill, the trial stood as a case of police brutality and infringement on freedom of life that it took a jury of four white women, two white men, three black men, one black woman and two multi-racial individuals less than nine hours to reach Chauvin’s conviction for murder.
Against a background of the troubling long history of American racism against people of colour this jury could have acquitted Chauvin on the same basis of mindset which saw ex-US president Donald Trump escape conviction in the US Senate for the January 6 2021 insurrection on Capitol Hill after he refused to concede defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Elections.
By composition this Jury was 7:5 with odds against blacks who were overwhelmingly involved in support of Floyd until the damning testimony and evidence by Danielle Frazer a teenager who, using her mobile phone filmed Floyd’s ordeal as he choked to death under Chauvin’s knee.
Certainly there are far reaching lessons to take away out of this trial whose upcoming sentencing will be on the criminal charges of murder. It must also be emphasized that Chauvin’s lawyers said they will appeal the ruling.
Floyd was being chased by the police for using a fake $10 bill to buy cigarettes at a nearby grocery shop. He died at the hands of a Police officer while he was not armed or threatening anybody.
Most people who saw the video clip of Floyd’s arrest witnessed horror of a healthy living person dying in full view of passersby while he screamed for help in the presence of the very persons who were meant to protect him.
There are laws about homicide worldwide and mob justice is a phenomenon akin to what Floyd went through. While public demands and cries for security seem to be getting louder, justice and fairness are tenets of law enforcement.
Courts are there to work in tandem with the police for the security civilians and property. This trial in Minneapolis allows us to acknowledge that the life of a pauper is no less valuable to that of a tycoon.
In Malawi numerous incidents of similar scale involving police and civilians have happened but no clear conclusions are provided.
The second lesson is a message of caution to those in authority not to ignore pleas by the public on unfair treatment in the workplace or day to day life. The separation of control from abuse of power, as thin as it may appear, could mean permissible or legal action and retribution.
While the US scenario is a highlight of the racial divide disadvantaging the ‘black America’, we should be concerned as Malawians with the behavior of a clique of the power hungry, plunderers of public resources, the despots and the elite who are wantonly exploiting the weak.
In other words, Malawi needs to screen the systems of institutionalised oppression of underprivileged minorities, including people with albinism, orphans and women by mostly male chauvinism to undo the vices and ensure justice prevails for all citizens.
Even when we go to some religious scriptures, rulers are urged to care for their subjects as God would wish them to do because exploitation and ill-treatment of God’s creation is condemned