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Expecting Peace After Chauvin Verdict? Don’t Hold Your Breath | RealClearPolitics


Watching the horrific video of George Floyd dying under the knee of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, even before charges were filed last year, I called it the way I saw it: Murder.

I’m often accused of being pro-police to a fault. But for me the video was enough. Just as with the Laquan McDonald case in Chicago — the Black teenager shot 16 times by a white cop — it was the video.

But I wasn’t in that Minneapolis courtroom for the Chauvin trial. The jurors were in the courtroom. They made their decision on Tuesday: Guilty on all three counts of murder and manslaughter.

The jury did its job. That’s what juries are supposed to do — examine all the evidence, deliberate and review the facts in the cool light of reason, not in the passion of the moment. The justice system is not the media trolling for clicks or politicians playing one political tribe against the other. There was plenty of gasoline poured on this case during the past year with Floyd protests in cities and with some becoming violent outbreaks of destruction and looting.

Now that Chauvin has been proven guilty in court, will there be peace in the streets?

I’d like to believe that, but …

For one thing, the activist left, the anti-police left, has great leverage now over Democratic mayors and the Democratic Party. It would be illogical to think they’d eagerly let that power go.

You might expect an appeal in the Chauvin case that will drag out, especially since U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a prominent Democrat, visited Minnesota and encouraged mob rule against the rule of law.

“We’re looking for a guilty verdict,” Waters said in Minnesota before the verdict. “We got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

She got the verdict she wanted. And her fellow Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, defended Waters. Of course they’d defend her. They wouldn’t dare condemn her. Race-based identity politics is the core of the Democratic Party now.

In my opinion, Waters wanted to interfere with the jury proceedings. The trial judge, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, knew it too. He condemned her comments as “abhorrent” and said they would likely serve as the basis of a Chauvin defense appeal.

And cities across America will wait and worry, all summer.

“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that’s disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” Cahill said of Waters after he dismissed the jury from the courtroom during their deliberations.

It would have, should have, been murder no matter the races of those involved. But so much of this case involves race and historical grievances with how police have treated minorities.

Some of us who grew up during the Civil Rights era were horrified when Martin Luther King Jr. was hit by that brick in Chicago. We condemn racism. King taught us not to judge people by skin color, but by the content of their character.

Unfortunately, that’s too old school now. Judging someone by the content of their character as opposed to race is something of a political sin, isn’t it? A sin against the new woke religion.

Chauvin’s decision to keep George Floyd under his knee for nine minutes, with passersby begging him to stop, was obviously excessive.

But I can’t help thinking of another case of deadly and excessive police force.

His name was John Wrana. He was 95 years old. He fought in World War II, could barely stand up without his walker, and liked to shoot craps and have a drink and joke with the younger guys at his nursing home in south suburban Chicago.

Wrana was an old white guy.

One night, suffering from a urinary tract infection as happens to many old people, he became delirious.

He refused to go to the hospital and threatened staff with his shoehorn. Some said it was a kitchen knife. Either way, he wasn’t a real threat. He couldn’t stand for long.

Still, local police showed up, got behind a riot shield, and shot him repeatedly in the guts with 12-gauge beanbag shotgun rounds. He later bled out internally at the hospital.

The police officer who was not in command but pulled the trigger was a Black man, and by many accounts a good cop. He was charged not with murder but with reckless conduct and was acquitted.

I often wondered: What if the races were reversed and John Wrana had been one of America’s famed Black sky warriors, a member of the decorated Tuskegee Airmen, and the officer with the pump gun was white?

The politics and media coverage would have been different, the way it’s all different for the family of Peyton Ham, the 16-year-old white Maryland student holding an airsoft gun who was killed by a Maryland state trooper.

Do Americans think too much about race? Probably.

Unfortunately, too many think about race all the time, in our politics, our lives, until we’re in the grave, when we all finally let it go.

(C)2021 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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