After a summer of unrest, protest, conversations, and prayer vigils, the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derrick Chauvin is now underway. The former officer was captured on video where, for more than nine minutes, he appeared to kneel on the neck of a handcuffed George Floyd. Mr. Floyd was taken from the scene unresponsive and would eventually die from the injuries.
Knowing this trial would be a trigger, and to maintain a level head, I only watched 20 minutes of Day 1. In those 20 minutes, I witnessed Mr. Floyd’s character be assassinated by defense council Eric Nelson, as he brought up Mr. Floyd’s past drug use and other transgressions. I also listened to Nelson’s opening statement, and it grieved my soul. Nelson told the jury, “…you will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career.” If this is true, if law enforcement is only trained to cause fatal injuries, the problem is much larger than I originally thought. If Nelson is right, the call for police reform should come from every American.
I know the job of law enforcement is not easy, and it is extremely dangerous. I also know everything I said before will get me labeled as “anti-police.” I am not. Many of my dearest friends and fraternity brothers are Peace Officers, and I deeply respect the work they do, and I appreciate their service.
The demand for police reform is about the right of every human being to be treated, well, humanely. It’s about this nation living out its creed, expressed in the conclusion of the Pledge of Alliance that says “…with liberty and justice for all.”
I’m Joe Mitchell, and that’s my perspective.