The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Derek Chauvin Trial:
A Different Kind of Show

Apr 12, 2021

The trial of Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is ongoing. While the outcome of the trial is not yet known, some of the testimony from witnesses in the trial has been remarkably different from what normally happens when a cop is brought to trial. A number of high-ranking police officials, from Minneapolis and other cities, have testified against Chauvin. They all basically testified that Chauvin was responsible for killing George Floyd.

Normally, on those rare occasions when a cop is charged for killing someone, police officials and other authorities do all they can to make sure the cop gets away with it.

It appears that possibly, in this case, the authorities want to see Chauvin convicted. And if that is true, it is only because they are afraid that if Chauvin gets off, there could be more massive protests in the streets, like those that happened after George Floyd was murdered.

Tens of millions of people in this country and around the world saw the video of Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for over 9 minutes. They didn’t need to hear any testimony to know that Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Millions of people came into the streets, day after day, protesting police brutality and racism.

But even if Chauvin is convicted, it does not change the fact that, in this society, the police are given the right to kill people, especially black people and other minorities. It happens day after day after day, with little consequences for the cops.

The federal government does not even keep statistics on how many people are killed by the police. Local police departments are not even required to report murders by cops.

Recently the Washington Post newspaper used news and media accounts from across the country to compile their own statistics. The Post study, which likely missed some killings, showed that about 1,000 people are shot and killed every year by the cops. Most of those killed are young men. Black men are killed at a rate 3 times higher than white men. Hispanic men are killed at a rate 2 times higher than white men.

The Washington Post study showed that of 6,163 people killed by cops over a 6-year period, 2,572 of the victims did not even have a gun, or even allegedly have a gun on them.

And what consequences did the cops face? The Washington Post study showed that when cops have killed people, 99% of the time they do not face any charges for murder or manslaughter. And 99.5% of the time, they are not convicted.

The legal system in this country is set up to give the police a license to kill. One of the police witnesses in the Chauvin trial said that killings by the police are “awful but lawful”. In 1989, a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court basically gave police all but full immunity from being charged after murdering people.

They get that legal right because those that run this capitalist system use the police forces to maintain their control over the population. Many times in the past, the police have been used to attack striking workers and to break picket lines. The police use their right to kill people in order to terrorize and intimidate the population.

Those millions of people who protested the murder of George Floyd made a powerful statement against police brutality and against racism. It may even lead to Chauvin being convicted.

But even after all the protests, the killings by cops have continued, like the recent murder by police of a 13-year-old child in Chicago.

To stop police brutality and murders by cops, it will take a fight to get rid of the capitalist system that uses police to maintain and defend exploitation.