The Chauvin Trial is Dangerously Deceptive

By Paul Street
April 20, 2021 –

The Chauvin TrialSince most U.S.-Americans know little about social and political reality beyond their own limited experience and bubbles, powerfully deceptive narratives and images disseminated by the corporate media easily distort public perceptions.

The election and presidency of Barack Obama fed the dangerous illusion that racism no longer posed barriers to Black advancement and equality in the United States and that the only such barriers left were internal to Black people themselves.

The constantly repeated lies claiming that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was linked to al Qaeda and the 9/11 jetliner attackers permitted the messianic dry-drunk militarist George W. Bush to undertake the monumentally criminal and mass-murderous, petro-imperialist invasion of Iraq without being forced from office in a giant popular uprising – and to get absurdly re-elected.

Even progressive thinkers who ought to know better simply cannot shake the idiotic claim advanced from the start by corporate media that Donald Trump’s political base was and is the (white) “working-class.” No amount of actual data showing the falsity of this belief seems to dent this religious belief among white male middle-aged and senior progressives I hear from.

Now we have the Dererk Chauvin trial. Is it a good thing that cable news has been broadcasting this dreadful proceeding from gavel to gavel, offering endless microscopic forensic coverage of the prosecution and defense of George Floyd’s racist cop murderer?

Not so much. It isn’t just that any fool can see that Chauvin lynched Floyd in cold blood and that it is distressing to watch Chauvin’s lawyer present the clearly videotaped 9 ½ minute asphyxiation of Floyd as if it were merely an incidental co-morbidity alongside Floyd’s supposedly drug- and disease-induced death. The defense strategy is smart but absurd and sociopathic. It not-so-subtly channels the vicious racist, mass-carceral War on Drugs at its core, appropriately enough. Having to hear about Floyd’s murder and Chauvin’s sickening defense over and over is re-traumatizing.

It’s not even that the obsessive focus on one case has diverted attention from the nation’s broad and deep system of brutal racial oppression and inequality – a system replete with racist mass incarceration, racist felony branding, and the almost routine murder and maiming of Black and brown people by white cops (numerous victims since the Chauvin trial began include Daunte Wright, just outside Minneapolis, and Adam Toledo, a 13-year old shot with his hands in the air in Chicago!).

No, it’s even worse. “Another deep problem here,” the Chicago anti-fascist activist Jay Becker writes, “is that people who haven’t followed other ‘trials’ of cops who kill (the few there have been) will think that Chauvin’s prosecution is typical when it is anything but. The chief of police testifying against him? Prosecutors actually prosecuting? Nope, it’s really quite unprecedented and evidence of the deep, deep fear that last summer’s rising against white supremacy has instilled in all law enforcement and the powers that be at large.”

Indeed. The danger here is that knowledge-starved Americans and whites especially will think this case is characteristic of how racist cops are usually treated when they kill and cripple Black and brown people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There have been some few partly or fully successful prosecutions of killer white cops whose crimes were just too egregious, too clearly caught on tape, and too notorious to successfully defend within courtrooms and the court of public opinion. Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke’s vicious 16-shot killing of the Black teenager Laquan McDonald (October 2014) and North Charleston, North Carolina cop Michael Slager’s sadistic murder of Walter Scott (April 2015) come to mind. But such prosecutions and convictions are remarkably rare (and Van Dyke got off with an absurdly short sentence). Most killer cops (like the murderers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and many more) go free. And there’s never been anything remotely like the Chauvin trial, with the chief of the Minneapolis police weighing in as part of a full-throated, expensive prosecution covered day after day on multiple cable channels with key trial moments regularly reported on national and local nightly news stations.

What’s it all about? Among the hundreds (if not thousands) of incidents in which white cops have killed Black Americans, the murder of George Floyd was distinctive in two key and related ways. First, it’s not just that it was caught on tape by a citizen (as were the killings of Walter Scott ad Eric Garner), but that it was a prolonged and deliberate lynching of a prone “suspect” that could not possibly be defended as a “split-second action made in the heat of action” (the standard defense used in countless cases, certain to be used by Daunte Wright’s recent killer, the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota officer Kim Potter). Second, it provoked the largest single protest wave in U.S.-American history, putting tens of millions of Americans in the streets behind calls not merely for improved police conduct but also for the dismantlement of the nation’s giant, globally unmatched racist mass arrest and incarceration state – a monstrous criminal injustice system that traces back to the nation’s unresolved legacies of Black chattel slavery, Jim Crow terrorism, hyper-segregating ghettoization, and racial fascism.

So the media here is stepping up to create an illusion: a government passionately committed to social and racial justice and to the disciplining of its gendarmes when they go too far. Chauvin is the sacrificial lamb for the preservation an insidious regime of racial oppression that rarely punishes its worst on-the-ground perpetrators. One can already hear the paranoid-style murmurings of the absurdly aggrieved white-Amerikaner Trumpenvolk – the deranged white nationalists who pathetically claim to be the real racial victims of the nation’s supposedly “radical Left” and “PC” politics, government, and media. They are taking the media’s extreme Floyd-Chauvin coverage as proof that “Anglo Saxon” Caucasians are the true wounded party. It’s more fuel for future white male mass shootings enabled by an insane gun culture that itself provides indispensable justification for the nation’s militarized police state.

It will take a prolonged people’s uprising, bigger than the George Floyd Rebellion to defeat all this and the imperialist class dictatorship that lay behind it at the end of the day.

Paul Street’s new book is The Hollow Resistance: Obama, Trump, and Politics of Appeasement.



One Guilty Verdict — And What It Means For All Black People’s Innocence
Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. But even as I cry tears of relief, I still mourn.

Justice, I Guess.
On May 25, 2020, George Perry Floyd, was alive. On that day, and every day prior to that day, George Floyd walked and talked and prayed and fell in love and – again, I cannot stress this enough – most of all, he was alive. Then he wasn’t.

11 thoughts on “The Chauvin Trial is Dangerously Deceptive”

  1. The problem with using the George Floyd case to denounce America for its “insidious racial oppression” is that the evidence on police brutality does not support the charge.

    Consider the fact that American cops kill about 1,100 civilians in a typical year, about 250 of whom are blacks. This is in a country of 330 million people, with about 35 million blacks. By comparison, police in Trinidad (population 1.4 million) kill about 45 civilians each year, or several times the per capita kill ratio in the USA. In Jamaica (population 3 million), police kill about 130 civilians each year, more than ten times the per capita kill rate of American cops.

    So unless we are prepared to denounce ourselves first, we should hesitate to accuse American police of killing to enforce a system of racial oppression.

      1. You seem irrational, not very bright and I have to assume you cannot face the facts. These statistics don’t lie. They help reveal the distortions and exaggerations of Left-wing and black nationalist propaganda.

        1. Chen he is the populist on this board always digging out an irrational racist comment from where the Sun don’t shine. Whilst you present facts on cop shooting, he will ignore the tsunami of black gang violence that has destroyed neighborhoods. His only claim to fame is his dark skin and kinky hair, nothing happening between his ears.

          Mr. Chen i appreciate your insight.

          1. Chauvin action must be interpreted in over a hundred years of our black brothers and sisters facing oppression. The hanging of a black man was the norm at one time in US history. Segregation along with exclusion with “whites only” sign were prevalent in not so distant pass.

            The sight of Rev. Sharpton as he sought to bring comfort to that grieving family was too much to bear. He understood the civil rights movement and the need to stand up against police brutality. He has done so much for our black brothers and sisters. In Alabama during the civil rights March, white officers with dogs unleashed a hideous and hate filled attack on women, children and men who were marching for their civil rights. Rights that were denied them for over a century.

            The verdict on Chauvin was a reflection of the long sordid history of racism and violent oppression. It sent a clear message to white officers to cease and desist from attacking the brothers in the hood and elsewhere. To treat everyone with dignity and respect…. the death of Floyd was not in vain.

        2. Chad Chen claims that i’m irrational and ignoring “facts”…he completely sidestepped my questions in order to do so. Only racists in trinidad (typically indians and hindu nationalists) use words like “left wing” “black nationalist” to undermine african issues. This is meant to demean and demoralize african people into a dalit submission psyche. There’s an insatiable urge to imply intellectual superiority via superior genetics and morals… Hence, “Not too bright”.

    1. The bottom line is that it is wrong in America, Trinidad and Jamaica.
      Put the statistics on hold for another day. Mr. Chen.

    2. So “Chad Chen” the statistics you put out relate to the amount of civilians killed by police in America in a typical year. That is not what the outcry and the protests and the BLM marches are about. It’s not about how many civilians are killed by the police, it’s about how many black people are killed by the police in America, and when we say police we mean the overwhelmingly white police. So it’s about white racism against blacks in America, it’s about white supremacy. That’s what BLM is about, the number of blacks who are killed by white police. So here is what your statistics should show, not how many civilians are killed by police, but how many blacks are killed by white police in America. And if you want to compare it with Trinidad, how many blacks are killed by white police in Trinidad. It’s about white supremacy and white racism, “Chen”, not about how many civilians are killed by police.

  2. “So the media here is stepping up to create an illusion: a government passionately committed to social and racial justice….”

    One would expect that after this verdict of a life sentence against a racist cop, there would be jubilation. But this article suggest a high degree of scepticism and cynicism.
    The fallout is the Minneapolis police service is under federal investigation for policing practices. And all officers are operating on pins and needles when it comes to how they treat the black brothers.

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