Tuesday, May 18

George Floyd jury meets amid political pressure


Updated

To the enormous tension that Minneapolis is experiencing, it is added that Joe Biden has hinted that he expects a guilty verdict for Chauvin

Portrait of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Portrait of George Floyd in Minneapolis.EFE
  • USA The jury begins its deliberations in the case of the death of George Floyd
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To say that what fourteen people in Minneapolis decide may depend on whether blood runs through the streets of America is not an exaggeration. Fourteen people: eight, white, six of other races; nine, women; Five men. Those are the members of the jury that must decide whether Minneapolis police officer Dereck Chauvin -white- is innocent or guilty of the death of George Floyd -black- on May 25th.

The city of Minneapolis is taken over by the National Guard and security forces. In all the large cities of the country the police are on alert in anticipation of possible violent acts when the verdict is known. And there is no shortage of reasons for this. If Chauvin is found not guilty, violence may explode. In fact, in an unprecedented case of interference by political power in the courts, this is what the Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters, who is African American, has threatened. Less direct, although his words carry much more weight, has been the Head of State and Government, Joe Biden, who has implied that expect a guilty verdict.

“I am praying that the verdict is correct, which is overwhelming, from my point of view,” Biden told the media at the White House on Tuesday. It was a clear interference of political power in the judiciary. Of course, Biden covered his back by saying that “I would not say this if the jury was not assembled, that is, isolated and without hearing what I say.”

Biden will issue a message when the sentence is known

The difference between Waters and Biden is that the former implicitly threatened violence. But the weight of the second is much greater. Biden not only achieved 81 million votes in November, but he is the president, a figure that would be equivalent to that of the King and the president of the Spanish Government in a single person. His statements are a clear position taken by the Executive on a matter that concerns the Judiciary. Biden is going to play, once again, the card of reconciliation, with a televised message after the sentence is issued, but he has already made it clear what sentence he wants. And his phrase reflects the division of the country. This Tuesday, the conservative television network Fox News highlighted as the main news on its website the “interference” of the president in the trial. The Democratic media, such as Fox News’ main competitor, CNN, and the newspaper ‘The Washington Post’ did not mention it.

Thus, the Executive has already said what sentence it expects. And a part of the Legislative, what can happen if that verdict is not produced. This was made clear by Waters on Saturday night, when he told the press during a protest in Minneapolis that, precisely, he violated the curfew in force in the city that “I hope we have a verdict that says ‘guilty, guilty, guilty.’ And, if not, we are not going to leave. “When journalists asked what will happen to the demonstrations after the trial, the 82-year-old congresswoman replied that” we are going to continue on the street and we are going to be more active, let’s look for more confrontation. We’re going to make sure they realize that we’re serious. ”

Those words hit like a bomb in the Hennepin County courtroom where the trial is taking place. It is the last thing the process needs, which takes place in a building surrounded by metal fences and cement blocks with barbed wire, with Army vehicles stationed nearby, in a neighborhood of the city where the shop windows have been replaced by wooden planks in anticipation of possible violence and looting. It is a landscape that was common in many cities in the United States during the weeks that followed Floyd’s death, and that is reluctant to disappear.

Based on Waters’ words, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, on Monday requested that the trial be declared void on the grounds that it involved “threats and intimidation of the jury.” The petition was rejected by the judge in the case, Peter Cahill, who, however, admitted that the congresswoman “may have given” the defense arguments “to appeal, that could result in the annulment of this lawsuit. “ The magistrate described Waters’s statements as “abhorrent”, and implied that they represent an interference of the Legislative Power in the Judiciary when he said that the congressmen, “if they want to give their opinions, they should do so with respect and in a way that is consistent. with his oath of the Constitution. ”

Waters’ phrase has predictably been condemned by Republicans and defended by Democrats. The former have presented a motion of disapproval in the House of Representatives against her. The latter support the decision of the president of that legislative body, Nancy Pelosi, that the congresswoman does not apologize, because “He spoke of confrontation in the sense of the fight for civil rights”, which is how the process by which African Americans achieved equality before the law with whites in the 1960s is known in the US.

But what the United States has in mind today is, more than the 1960s, the year 2020, with the 8 minutes and 46 seconds in which Chauvin had his left knee on Floyd’s neck until he killed him by suffocation, with the dozens of people killed in the riots, with the billions destroyed and looted, and the the country’s biggest racial crisis in 52 years. That is the context that surrounds the fourteen people who tomorrow Wednesday enter the third day of deliberation to decide if Chauvin is guilty or innocent.

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