What sentence can bring justice for George Floyd?
The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin has begun in Minneapolis. According to the prosecution Chauvin pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, for nine minutes and 29 seconds during an arrest in May 2020, as a result of which Floyd died shortly afterwards. If the court rules that Chauvin is guilty as charged, he faces up to 40 years in prison. Commentators highlight the public pressure under which the trial is taking place.
This trial will show where the country stands
The fate of the US will be decided in Minneapolis, correspondent Federico Rampini comments in La Repubblica:
“Yesterday, a trial began in Minneapolis which all America, and with it the whole world, is watching. The rule of law is at stake, the credibility of American democracy: vis-à-vis its own citizens; vis-à-vis its friends and enemies abroad. ... The whole nation will draw grave conclusions from the final verdict: whether African-Americans can trust their country's criminal justice system; whether law enforcement officials must answer for their actions before the law; whether the question of race is an incurable plague because it is 'carved' into the institutions, an original sin in the DNA of the United States.”
The pressure on the judge and jury will be immense, says Der Tagesspiegel:
“What sentence can calm agitated America? Ten years, 25, 40? Must Chauvin be explicitly condemned as a racist? Is it not enough if only his excessive use of force is condemned? ... For the African American community, the trial is meant to prove that there is structural racism in the US and that the police force is more of a threat than a protection for blacks - an almost impossible goal. ... The outcome of this trial is open, as is only fitting in a constitutional state. However, seldom has there been so much concern that too many people will be disappointed in the end.”
Don't turn the victims into perpetrators
The attempts of Chauvin's defence lawyers to discredit George Floyd are shameful, says columnist Ahmed Baba in The Independent:
“I could write an entire article just listing the names of Black people who had their character questioned and attacked after they became victims of racist violence. And here's the thing: even if everything the worst right-wing pundits say turns out to be true, it doesn't matter. The price of being a flawed character is not execution. No character trait deprives a person of their right to life and due process. Nothing that George Floyd, or any other unarmed Black person killed, did justifies an extrajudicial killing. Nothing. ... This strategy is as old as racism itself and exhausting to witness.”
Verdict has already been passed
The public has already formed its opinion of the accused, fears right-wing populist politician Alain Destexhe in Causeur:
“It is to be hoped that Chauvin will be given a fair trial. Based on the facts, an acquittal or a conviction for unintentional murder appears to be entirely possible. However, both would upset a large part of the public for whom the verdict is already clear. Is Chauvin doomed to become the scapegoat, the one who calms community anger and channels the violence to prevent unrest in the US?”