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3 Police Officers Involved In Death Of George Floyd To Stand Trial This Week 

Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao are the three former police officers who helped Derek Chauvin restrain George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

Chauvin was recently convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, now, the three men are set to stand trial in a federal courtroom Monday for violating Floyd’s civil rights. 

The three former officers are charged with deprivation of rights under color of law for allegedly failing to give Floyd medical aid, according to the indictment. Thao and Keung are also being charged with failing to intervene when Chauvin was using unreasonable force as he kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back for over 9 minutes, leading to his death. 

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Keung, Lane, and Thao have all pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. Chauvin admitted guilt back in December as part of a plea deal. A jury of five men and seven women have been chosen for the trial this week. 

20 months ago George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was handcuffed and pressed to the pavement lying on his stomach while former officer Chauvin applied pressure to the back of his neck and back with his knee. Floyd continuously pleaded with officers that he couldn’t breathe, calling out for his mother and gasping consistently for 9 minutes. 

The officers called for medical services but did not provide any actual aid to Floyd, who eventually fell unconscious and stopped breathing. He remained in that state while being taken to the hospital, where he later would pass away. 

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The video of Floyd’s tragic passing went viral, sparking one of the largest social justice movements around the world. Ben Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney, recently made a statement regarding the difficulty the family is facing, constantly reliving this tragic moment. 

“This trial will be another painful experience for the Floyd family, who must once more relive his grueling death in excruciating detail. On behalf of the legal team and the family, we trust and expect that an impartial jury representative of the community will be seated to do this important work.”

This federal case is separate from the state charges for Floyd’s death, which Keung, Lane, and Thao are set to endure trial for in June. The state charges include aiding and abetting, with all three officers pleading not guilty. 

All four officers were fired due to the bystander video release of Floyd’s death, and were arrested and charged days later. Chauvin pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charged for violating Floyd’s rights during the arrest. 

Chauvin is currently facing a sentence of between 20 and 25 years in prison to be served during his current 22.5 year sentence on the state murder charges. 

Open Book

Richard Wright’s Unreleased Novel On Race Set To Be Released This Year 

Richard Wright was known as one of the most influential African American writers of the 20th century. His daughter, Julia, recently spoke with the press about how when they were younger it was difficult for her father to talk to her about race, especially because of how heavy and graphic of a topic it was/is. 

“It’s like soldiers who go to war and then come back. They don’t always find the way to share what they did at war with their family. My father didn’t really know how to share the pain of race with me.” 

Julia is 79 now, and told the media that Richard had other ways of educating her on racial issues within this country. “He would leave the doors of his office open so that I could have free range of his books and read everything I wanted to read, and that’s how I picked up some clues on what he was going through as a Black man.”

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Her dedication to her father’s work is what’s led to the release of an unseen Wright novel that was rejected by publishers about 80 years ago. The book is called ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’ and focuses on race and police violence; something that couldn’t be more relevant today with the recent verdict being made for the trial of Derek Chauvin. 

“The novel follows Fred Daniels, an African American man framed by police for a double murder he did not commit. He is beaten and tortured until he confesses but escapes into the city’s sewer system, beginning a journey into a modern underworld,” according to the Guardian.

Wright was known for his famous 1940 novel ‘Native Son,’ but he considered ‘The Man Who Lived Underground’ to be his best work yet, in fact at one point he claimed: “I have never written anything in my life that stemmed more from sheer inspiration. But publishers turned it down. Its uncompromising portrayal of police brutality may have rendered it untouchable.” 

Julia was still in her mother’s womb when Richard was writing this novel, so she jokingly refers to it as her “twin.” 

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“The publishers of the day were discounting black readership and they didn’t want to unsettle white readership. Discomfort is too gentle a word. I think they were afraid of what they read in those pages. It was too close to the truth. So it was a no brainer. This had to come out.” 

“The George Floyd video that little girl, Darnella Frazier, made on her cell phone also is too close to the truth. It has the same symbolic value that those pages on police brutality my father wrote so many years ago still have. People don’t want to see it.” Julia took the novel to the Library of America multiple times, and “then when George Floyd happened, I knocked at their door again and said ‘look here, let’s do it, because if we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it. And they said yes.” 

The novel is being published this week and will include an essay by Wright, and an afterword written by his grandson, Malcolm Wright.

“I am very fulfilled. This has been a 10-year uphill wait for it to come to light and out of the darkness, out of the underground, literally, of those unpublished papers. I think it’s going to change a lot for his reputation. People tend to think of Wright as a bit of a naturalistic disaster or a simple writer of protest novels but he’s so much more complex and people are going to have to reassess him with this book,” explained a joyful Julia. 

“He would have been very bittersweet about it. My father was so much in advance of his times that sometimes what he wrote was not recognized or was denied because it was too far ahead. So he wouldn’t say, ‘I told you so,’ because he was too kind a person to do that, but he would sort of chuckle and take his pipe and smoke placidly and say, ‘Well’. Almost what Malcolm X said: ‘Chickens come home to roost, don’t they?’”

Derek Chauvin Found Guilty For The Murder Of George Floyd 

After three weeks of testimonials, the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin has come to a close as he was found guilty on all three charges over the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin, 45, could be sent to prison for up to 40 years pending when he’s sentenced in about two months from now. 

The verdict set off a bittersweet reaction for Americans, who were happy a police officer was held accountable for the unjust murder of an innocent Black person, but an understanding that there is still a lot of work to be done, as there are so many other past victims who’s murderer’s will not face the same consequences Chauvin is. 

“Today we are able to breathe again,” said Philonise Floyd, George’s younger brother, who compared the killing of his brother to the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till, although this time there was cell phone footage to actually show the world first hand what happened. 

“It appeared a lot easier on Chauvin than when my brother was handcuffed before his death, but it still represents accountability. It makes us happier knowing his life mattered, he didn’t die in vain.” 

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The jury was composed of six white and six Black and multiracial individuals who came back with their verdict after about 10 hours of deliberations over two days. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. His bail was revoked immediately and he will be sentenced in about two months time. 

President Joe Biden reacted to the historic verdict by discussing how “Floyd’s death was a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see systemic racism. It’s not enough. We can’t stop here. We’re going to deliver real change and reform. We can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen again.”

A park next to the Minneapolis courthouse held a crowd of about 300 people who went silent as the verdict was being announced. Then, shouts and cheers of celebration could be heard for miles all throughout the nation. 

Janay Henry, who lives nearby, said she felt “grateful and relieved. I feel grounded. I can feel my feet on the concrete. I’m looking forward to the next case with joy and optimism and strength. There’s some form of justice that’s coming.”

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According to the Associated Press, “out of the thousands of deadly police shootings in the U.S. since 2005, fewer than 140 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter. Before Tuesday, only seven were convicted of murder.”

Floyd’s death sparked one of the largest civil rights movements this country has ever seen. Individuals who were around for the original movement in the 1950’s and 60’s said that the Black Lives Matter demonstrations from the past year have been some of the largest they’ve ever seen. Darnella Drazier’s video of the murder is what sparked the movement and call for action against Chauvin and the three other officers at the scene of the murder. 

Frazier said Chauvin gave the bystanders a “cold and “heartless stare. We all felt a sense of helplessness and lingering guilt from witnessing Floyd’s slow-motion death. It’s been nights I stayed up, apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” she testified.

BJ Wilder is a 39-year-old Minneapolis resident who told the press that he sees the drive for change that this case has caused, and while it’s infuriating that another innocent Black person had to be killed to get the rest of the country to wake up, there is hope, it’s in the hands of the government now though.

“I’m hopeful that Chauvin’s conviction will be a turning point that leads to an awakening in America and accountability for officer misconduct.”
This is something different. This is new, we’ve been here so many times before and honestly the first thing that I really thought about was the Rodney King situation,” Wilder said referring to the acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers who had beaten King — an event that led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. “And I thought it could have been something similar to that, just because we all saw that too. And this feels like — just feels like we can breathe. This feels like something new. It’s hopefully a new day in America.”
Judge Gavel

Biden Administration Watching Derek Chauvin Trial Closely As Verdict Is Reached 

The Biden administration is keeping a close eye on the closing arguments and deliberations that occur in the Minneapolis trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. The President himself voiced his concerns over potential fallout from the trial during a private meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. Vice President Kamala Harris has also been greatly discussing preparation tactics with certain aides. 

The US is currently dealing with a major wave of mass shootings as well as the country begins to reopen with the rollout of multiple Covid-19 vaccines. Additionally, the killing of 20-year-old Duante Wright and 13-year-old Adam Toledo at the hands of the police also have racial tensions at an all time high, as both incidents occurred within two weeks of each other. 

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According to CNN, “the whipsaw of events, along with near-daily episodes of major shootings across the country, have only heightened pressure on both the President and Congress to hold police accountable for misconduct, a challenge now playing out against the backdrop of new calls for gun legislation.”

“The bully pulpit is more than just a bully pulpit. I think the President can help set a tone in the country, there is no question in my mind,” said Representative James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat who is the highest-ranking African American member of Congress.

In terms of the Chauvin trial, representative Karen Bass of California expressed how she’s “very worried” for the potential unrest the nation will endure within the next week.  “I don’t think anyone in Minneapolis, frankly, anyone in the United States or over a good part of the world would understand any other verdict other than guilty.”

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Harris recently spoke in an interview as well on the trial: “Certainly, we want to make sure that the American people call for justice — we all want to know that those calls are met. And we need to all be aware that when those calls for justice are not met, people rightly express their First Amendment right to speak out, to assemble and to express their concern, their pain, their disappointment — as long as it’s peaceful protests.”

According to advisers, “Biden wants neither to replicate the heavily militarized response to protests under former President Donald Trump nor to appear absent in the face of violence or unrest directed at law enforcement, one official said. He also believes he must directly acknowledge the systemic racism that pervades criminal justice in America.”

Biden has put his support behind the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which is a bill that would establish a national registry of all police misconduct, ban racial/religious profiling by law enforcement, and overhaul the system that grants police officers qualified immunity from certain crimes. 

America is patiently awaiting the results of the Derek Chauvin trial in what’s being viewed as one of the biggest trials in history when it comes to racial inequality in this country.

Derek Chauvin Set To Go On Trial For The Murder Of George Floyd This Week 

The murder trial of Derek Chauvin will begin this week in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged with the second-and-third-degree murder of George Floyd as well as manslaughter after he detained Floyd over suspicion of passing a $20 counterfeit bill last May. 

In a viral 9-minute video of the interaction between Chauvin and Floyd, the former officer can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was already handcuffed and two other officers kept him on the ground. Floyd can be heard multiple times saying that he couldn’t breath and felt like he was about to die. The video then led to some of the biggest protests against racial injustice and police brutality since the 1960s.

In Minneapolis especially, the Black Lives Matter movement began with hundreds of peaceful protests which eventually were turned violent, many times due to police interference. The authorities claim to be planning on increasing the amount of police and national guard presence on the streets ahead of the trial this week. 

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Areva Martin is the Civil rights attorney and commentator who is working with Floyd’s family. Martin recently spoke to the press ahead of the trial this week to discuss how “the family is seeking justice, the public is seeking accountability.”

The world is waiting to see if the US will be courageous enough to stand up to a system that has a history of violating the rights of African Americans and, rather than protecting those lives, has actually destroyed them.”

The prosecution and defence are mainly concerned with the cause of Floyd’s death and Chauvin’s reasoning for why he felt he had to lean into Floyd’s neck for such an extended period time when he was already detained. 

In an autopsy performed by the Hennepin county medical examiner office, it was determined that Floyd’s death was a homicide due to the fact that he suffered from heart failure brought on by “law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” 

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It’s expected that Chauvin’s defence team will focus on the findings that Floyd had heart disease as well, and there was evidence of “fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use,” in his system. Floyd’s team, on the other hand, is expected to focus on the fact that Chauvin had a long history of using excessive force in the past, including multiple incidents of kneeling on people throughout his career. 

After Floyd’s death, Chauvin was fired and arrested, and this marks the beginning of what is likely to be one of the most closely watched court cases in modern history. 

“George Floyd wasn’t the first person to be killed by police on this block, but [in the past] media wasn’t the way that it is and a lot of it got swept under the rug … How do we prevent this from happening? That could be my son. I have two sons,” said Mileesha Smith, a Minneapolis community member who was present at a vigil held this weekend ahead of the trial. 

If Chauvin is charged to the fullest extent, he could face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

Transgender Flag

Massive Protests Erupt In Response To Multiple Murders Of Black Transgender Women In America

Riah Milton was 25 and Dominique Fells was 27; both were black trans women, and both were murdered. The two victims were discovered a couple of weeks ago within the same week of eachother in what advocacy groups are calling the latest deaths in an epidemic facing transgender people; but more specifically black trans women.

American Police

Seattle Police Want To Return To Vacated Precinct Located In ‘Autonomous Zone’

Seattle’s Mayor, Jenny Durkan, has addressed the group of protesters who have an established autonomous zone in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood this week, and told them all that “it’s time for people to go home.” While the mayor ensured that no one would be removed by force, she would be meeting with Black-led community organizations as a means of persuading them to leave the area while they continue out their peaceful protests. 

Police were initially pulled out of the Seattle Police Department precinct located in the neighborhood as tensions rose amid the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police. This past weekend, however, three separate shootings occurred at night in the same area as the autonomous zone, motivating officials to get all protesters out at least during the nighttime hours of the day.

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“We can still accommodate people who want to protest peacefully. But the impacts on the businesses and residents in the community are now too much,” Durkan said

The East Precinct was boarded up and abandoned by officers after protesters set up an autonomous zone directly outside of the building. Police Chief Carmen Best said that the decision to leave the precinct was not her idea and expressed her anger to citizens when the decision was made. Mayor Durkan, on the other end of it, told media outlets that she thought the autonomous zone could be “seen as the Summer of Love.” 

However, while the message behind the zone is strong and powerful, Durkan still believes she needs to get her officers back in the building, and claims it’s literally a matter of “life or death.” There’s been over 100,000 emergency calls since the creation of the zone that could’ve been more easily responded to if first responders didn’t have to work though a “hostile crowd,” according to officials.

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Protesters view the hostility as coming more so from the side of authority, as Durkan herself even pointed out, the victims of the three shootings that occurred near the autonomous zone were all black men; one of which was just 19-years-old, who unfortunately ended up passing away from his injuries. 

“It is not unnoticed that the victims were Black men, there have also been reports of rape, arson and property destruction. We cannot walk away from the truth of what is happening here. This is about life or death,” Mayor Durkan said.

Chief Best has since denied claims that her department was not responding to calls in the zone purposefully, and emphasized to the public that Seattle itself is “not under siege” and officers are “responding to every call in every area of the city.” This specific statement, however, came out directly after Seattle Police officers received a department wide email that instructed them not to respond to calls for service within the autonomous zone unless they were responding to a “mass casualty event such as an active shooter or fire.” 

Seattle Police spokesman Detective Patrick Michaud confirmed to media outlets that the email was in fact authentic but officers were still responding to any significant safety issues within the neighborhood. Other minor calls from within the zone are responded to by requesting the caller to meet first responders outside of the area.

Black Lives Matter Poster

‘They’re Finally Starting To Get It’: Angela Davis Reflects On Her 50-Year Fight For Racial Justice

Angela Davis famously gave an interview in 1972 from her cell in a California state prison and during, viewers claim she branded herself as an intellectual individual who represented millions of other black american women who simply wanted to be seen as human beings.

Cop Car

‘Live P.D.’ Cancelled Amid Worldwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Television network A&E has announced this week that they will be cancelling their hit-series Live P.D. in wake of George Floyd’s death and the political unrest in this country regarding police brutality against black Americans.

The series itself was already on hiatus amid the covid-19 pandemic, like many other television series that are unable to film due to health concerns. Now, the network announced that the hiatus would remain permanent out of respect to their black viewers.

“This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we have made the decision to cease production on Live PD. Going forward, we will determine if there is a clear pathway to tell the stories of both the community and the police officers whose role it is to serve them. And with that, we will be meeting with community and civil rights leaders as well as police departments,” the network said in a statement.

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The cancellation decision was made by A&E and MGM’s Big Fish Entertainment, which is the production company that has always produced the series. Live P.D. isn’t the only reality-police television series getting the boot amid these worldwide protests against racism. The announcement of Live P.D.’s cancellation came just one day after the Paramount Network announced that they would be cancelling Cops; the show originally aired in 1989.

Initially, the plan was going to be to keep Live P.D. in its hiatus until they could have extended conversations with the community, police, and fans on the best way to keep the show alive while still respecting the protesters fighting for basic human rights across the nation. Ultimately, the network and production decided a complete cancellation was the only way.

This decision came after members of production realized there was no way to continue the show in its current form especially when protesters, politicians, and celebrities with massive platforms are all calling for a complete overhaul of the police system.

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Live P.D. has always been controversial, as black viewers often felt it purposefully demonized individuals of color while praising the officers for their aggressive means of arrest. More specifically, in March of 2019 Javier Ambler was murdered during a police stop which has been allegedly captured by the crew of Live P.D.; the video has since been destroyed.

That incident, however, barely impacted the network or show. In fact, before these nationwide protests began two weeks ago, A&E had actually renewed the series for another 160 episodes. This makes sense, as Live P.D. was cable’s #1 show on Fridays and Saturdays in 2019, and actually boosted the network ratings so much that A&E became one of the leading cable networks.

During the pandemic especially, the show received a massive spike in viewership, along with many other cable television programs. The show was receiving about 3 million viewers every weekend.

The host of the show, Dan Abrams, took to Twitter to express his disappointment in the decision to cancel, as he genuinely believed the network would be able to work out a solution. However, Abrams and fans were left disappointed. The future of all other police related television shows are still up in the air, but after Cops, which has been on for three decades, was cancelled, many programs aren’t so confident. Like all things pandemic related, only time will tell what the future holds for authoritative related television programming.

Police

‘The Daily Show With Trevor Noah’ Returns With A Passionate Message About Police Brutality

Trevor Noah has joined a slew of other late night hosts who have begun using their daily platform to speak up against the current injustices America is facing as it endures two major pandemics: the coronavirus and racism.