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Chauvin Is Guilty, but the Trauma Won’t Stop

Another democracy-ish episode, “another insane week of being a Black person in America,” says Toure.

  • Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd, was convicted on all counts after an 11-hour deliberation by the jury.

  • Just after Chauvin was taken away from the courtroom in handcuffs, news broke that Columbus, Ohio, police shot and killed 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant on her front lawn after she called them for help.

  • The Nation’s Elie Mystal joins Toure and Danielle to discuss the news of the week, as well as the police killings of Adam Toledo in Chicago and Daunte Wright just outside Minneapolis.

In the hours before the verdict was announced, Danielle felt physically ill. But she thought she would feel more relief than she does now –– that “I’d feel like we could take a deep breath,” she says. “That this could be the first in a series of police being held accountable for killing us like fucking animals in the streets.”

But the three-week trial was constantly interrupted by more killings. Daunte Wright was shot by police just a few miles away from the Minneapolis courthouse. In Chicago, police shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo when his hands were up in surrender.

And as Derek Chauvin was handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom, any attempt at a deep breath was interrupted by news that a cop murdered 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio.

To break it all down, Toure and Danielle are joined again by Elie Mystal, legal expert and justice correspondent for The Nation.

“What we just went through to get here is unsustainable and unrepeatable,” Elie says of the guilty verdict.

“To get this one conviction, we needed 10 minutes of uninterrupted broad daylight video showing the murder, and a victim who was handcuffed, screaming for his mother while he was being killed. We needed a national protest movement over a summer during a pandemic. We needed years and years of work by Black activists to build the infrastructure so those protests could happen.”

We also needed a Democratic attorney general in Minnesota –– “this does not happen in a Republican state” –– as well as a prosecutor who was willing to bring charges, a three-week trial and 10 cops to break the “blue wall of silence” and testify against Chauvin.

“That is a heavy lift,” says Elie, “and it's not a lift that we can count on again.”

Episode Highlights –– Chauvin Is Guilty

Relief, interrupted

Danielle was touched by seeing George Floyd’s family cry tears of joy after all the work they’ve done to arrive at this day.

“But seeing their cheers brought me back to the Zimmerman courtroom, and the devastation of Trayvon Martin's parents –– and of all of the parents and families who never got that moment,” she adds.

Toure “felt tremendous catharsis” watching Chauvin’s exit. He wonders “if there was a small shudder that went through the police officers of America: like, shit, it can happen.”

But he doesn’t feel any joy in terms of whether it means we’ve moved forward on racial justice or police violence.

“This seems to me like an oasis in an impossible losing season: one victory following loss after loss.”

Elie was relieved as well, “and I don't want to soft sell that,” he says. “Because let's never forget the alternative here. As we were waiting for the verdict, I was thinking, if this goes bad, what happens tonight? What happens to this country? What happens to that community? ... The worst that could have happened would have been very bad.”

But when he learned about Ma'Khia Bryant, he “snapped back to reality and remembered that there is no victory. There is only continued struggle.”

The power of video –– and a 17-year-old girl

Danielle points out that the initial police statement “characterized what we saw for nine minutes and 27 seconds as a medical incident.”

Without the bravery of 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, who recorded the entire incident on her phone, “we wouldn't even be having this discussion,” she adds. “Because they had no qualms about the lie that they put together. And Derek Chauvin wasn't going to lose a night of sleep, let alone his job, had it not been for Darnella’s video.”