The testimony of several witnesses in the federal trial of the three white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery left little doubt about their racism. There was evidence that they had been harboring racial animus for years, and finally had an opportunity to violently express it and violate Arbery’s civil rights.
When Kim Potter was punished with only a 24-month sentence, eight of them on probation, for killing Daunte Wright in Minnesota, there was an outpouring of disgust with many asserting another miscarriage of justice.
Now we wait to see what will happen in the civil rights case of three former Minneapolis police officers connected to the murder of George Floyd in 2020. The judge in the Potter case took time to draw some distinctions between the two tragedies.
How these two cases will bear on the officers in Minneapolis has a number of complicated factors with Derek Chauvin being the one convicted of applying the knee compressing Floyd’s neck leading to his death, and others charged with failing to give Floyd medical aid, or in the case of two other officers failing to intervene in Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force.
Common to each of these incidents is the case of three Black men having their lives ended by bullets or a knee from a white man and a white female officer, who unlike the others demonstrated some remorse for her actions.
Many have raised questions that in any of these instances if the victims had been white would they be dead now. For too many white folks, a Black man is a mortal threat, a potential beast that can snuff out their lives.
Across more than five centuries of American history this fact has been a reality and to think it can be rectified in the courtrooms is ludicrous. But to some extent that is the only mercy available, something we have to live with and, when it does not exist, as in the case of George Floyd, die from.
As they deliberate in Minneapolis, let us hope that the jurors there won’t need a chorus of witnesses testifying about the racist behavior of the officers to deliver a just verdict.