April 20, 2021, 5pm EST—A Minneapolis jury just found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges—second degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter—in the brutal killing of George Floyd. Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison.
Now, we need justice for ALL the families who have lost loved ones to police violence.
Prosecute all police who kill! Reopen ALL the cases closed without justice!
By Argiris Malapanis
April 20, 2021—Throughout April, protests have begun to spread across the United States demanding prosecution and jail time for police officers who continue to act as judge, jury, and executioner while shooting and killing people, a disproportionate number of whom are African Americans or other people of color. In addition, new actions have now been called for April 24, initiated by families that have lost loved ones to police violence and their supporters.
Rampant police brutality and racism fuel this discontent. According to an article in the April 17 New York Times, since testimony began on March 29 in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, “at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead. As of Saturday [April 17], the average was more than three killings a day.”
Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who was asphyxiated to death as Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and held face down on the ground by several cops, during a May 2020 arrest. The brutal execution was videotaped by bystanders. The gruesome video was circulated worldwide, sparking protests by millions.
Three additional officers, who helped hold Floyd on the ground — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — were fired along with Chauvin and face trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Chauvin’s restraint should have ended once Floyd stopped resisting, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified April 5 during Chauvin’s trial. “Certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, [Chauvin] should have stopped,” the chief said, indicating that city authorities were inclined to throw the former cop under the bus to salvage the image of the police department.
The prosecution and defense presented closing arguments in Chauvin’s trial April 19. Jury deliberations began the same day, and the jury announced the guilty verdict late this afternoon.
New killings by cops spark outrage
Two of the dozens of recent killings by cops, in particular, have sparked new outrage.
One took place on April 11 in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, about 10 miles north from where the George Floyd case was being tried in Minneapolis. Cops pulled over Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old African-American man. They claimed he was driving with an expired registration sticker and found out he had an outstanding warrant. During that traffic stop, Kim Potter, a 26-year-veteran of the police and head of the police union in Brooklyn Center in 2019, shot Wright in the chest, while he was in his car, and killed him. Potter then claimed she mistakenly fired her gun, thinking she was using her taser. Potter, as well as the Brooklyn Center chief of police, subsequently resigned from the force. Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Wright’s family has denounced the charges as too lenient. In an April 16 press conference, Daunte’s mother, Katie Wright, flanked by others who have lost family members to police terror, called for more severe charges against Potter. Rightly so. “She murdered my son,” Katie Wright said, referring to Potter. “Second-degree manslaughter is not okay….[S]he is sitting on a police pension while I am going to have to bury my son in a few days. I need my son to have justice along with everyone else’s son.”
World-Outlook has just re-published a Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder article on that important news conference.1
Since April 11, daily protests have taken place in Brooklyn Center and elsewhere in the area to press the demands of the Wright family.
The second case erupted after the recent revelation by Chicago authorities that city cops had shot dead a 13-year-old Latino kid. The seventh-grader, Adam Toledo, apparently followed police orders and turned around with his hands up, empty, to face the pursuing officer during a March 29 foot chase, when the cop shot him in the chest and killed him. Police claim they encountered Toledo and 21-year-old Ruben Roman, who was tackled by police and taken into custody, after a police audio scanner picked up gunshots in the area. The police later claimed Toledo was holding a gun during the chase.
Attorney Adeena Weiss Ortiz, who represents the teen’s family that lives in Chicago’s Little Village, a predominantly Latino neighborhood on the city’s West Side, said Toledo was not holding a weapon when the officer opened fire. “Those videos speak for themselves,” Ortiz told the media April 15, after the city released the footage from the officer’s body camera. “He tossed the gun,” she said. “If he had a gun, he tossed it. The officer said, ‘Show me your hands.’ He complied. He turned around.”
Several thousand people rallied in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood on April 16, demanding justice for Adam Toledo and prosecution of the cop who killed him. A march followed.
Similar protests of modest size have taken place across the country.
‘Now. Is. The. Time.’
“Now is the time. Push! It is clearer and clearer the sloppiness of the cover ups that led to impacted family cases being dismissed,” said Brian Taylor in an April 18 Facebook post. “Strike now and demand they be REOPENED or OPENED FOR THE FIRST TIME! Don’t let the momentum from popular sentiment for George Floyd and Daunte Wright be squandered. Demand justice for them as we raise consciousness about the cover ups for cop killers in our own area.” Taylor was building an April 24 action called by the Cincinnati Anti-Police Brutality Coalition (see announcement below). Taylor is an organizer of the group.
“The Cincinnati Anti-Police Brutality Coalition is joining a national day of impacted family–centered action to demand local cases be reopened or opened for the first time,” says the coalition’s press release. “We will also be demanding the prosecution of police who stole the lives of our loved ones.
“As we know, the verdict in the trial of killer cop Derek Chauvin could happen any day now. Whether we are celebrating a verdict pressured by mass actions around the country or demanding yet another case by reopened, it is a reason to hit the streets together.
“Join us as we assemble at New Prospect Baptist Church and hear from impacted family members then march through neighborhoods, where some of us live.”
Addressing rising tensions in Minnesota where the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was expected soon, and where city authorities were already warning about the prospect of violent protests, Taylor said in an April 19 Facebook post:
“Hold up! Did the Minneapolis mayor just say ‘we will not tolerate violence?’ What the hell do you call what cops did to Floyd, Wright, Justin Teigen and so many others? Hypocritical silent partners in police killings,” Taylor said.
“We are MUCH more effective when we mobilize in mass and convince angry fellow fighters to not throw bottles at cops and officials who are looking for an excuse to pounce and shut down space,” he continued.
“That doesn’t mean we are peaceful. How dare these officials ask if our protests are peaceful when they occur in response to a brutal killing with no repercussions? We are disciplined and looking to keep our people safe. But we will defend ourselves ferociously.
“Whether in Cincinnati, Minneapolis or any town where we take the streets: keep families centered, use this moment to raise up impacted families in your area. Because People in America are watching. And though we can think it is taking too long sometimes, people are learning. Learning that cops lie, examiners lie, so-called experts lie and courts roll with it. Evidence is piling up in city after city and cops are so arrogant and confident they will get off, they have left sloppy trails everywhere — from Herbert Hightower to Quandavier Hicks. Melvin Murray to Dontez O’Neal. Henry Green to Jesse Sarey.
“I met a woman 2 weeks ago who has been fighting for 9 years. Hitting a brick wall. And then … her case was reopened. She did not give up.
“Now. Is. The. Time.”
Similar actions have been announced for April 24 in other cities. They include a protest in Boston called by Mass Action Against Police Brutality (see flyer below).
“Come join us to remember the loved ones we have lost to police brutality here in the Inland Northwest,” says a similar announcement about an April 24 protest in Spokane, Washington. “Hear testimonies from families and friends directly impacted and learn more about police violence in our area. We demand all cases of police brutality be reopened and for police accountability.
“We will be gathering at Riverfront Park on 4/24/21 from 3pm to 5pm. We will be between the Ice Ribbon and the Information Center.
“While national cases like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Daunte Wright bring awareness to police brutality, we must also remember those who we lost here in the Inland Northwest!
“If you, your family or friends have been victims of police brutality, come tell your story. We are here to support each other.
“This event is one of many being held across the nation on April 24th to protest police brutality.” (See flyer below.)
- Families Victimized by Police Violence Unite, Call for Higher Charges for Daunte Wright’s Killer (published April 20, 2021, on World-Outlook.com)