A.t Tuesday it was the Democrat Nancy Pelosi who involuntarily showed how hopelessly American politics is caught in its spiral of exaggeration. In her relief at the jury verdict of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of African American George Floyd, the House “spokeswoman” said, “Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice.”
The attempt by an experienced top politician to declare Floyd, who was killed in a brutal police operation less than a year ago, a martyr is cynical. At least no less cynical than all attempts by the conservative side to explain the judgment as evidence that there is no need for action in the fight against racism and police violence, because the judiciary is obviously functioning.
Floyd’s killing was unique in only one sense: it happened in broad daylight and it was filmed. Chauvin’s actions, unswerving by Floyd’s pleading and the screams of onlookers, dug his knee into the choking man’s neck for no reason, was such a blatant and well-documented violation of law and morality that it caused almost unanimous horror a year ago. Even those who, like the then President Trump, always shout a “Blue Lives Matter” at every “Black Lives Matter” in defense of the police, condemned the act.
“Get rid of the police!”
Of course, there was no more in common: The Trump camp vehemently rejected the depressing statement, even by well-known Republicans, that America was dealing with a “systemic” problem, and warned against anarchy. On the left, on the other hand, the (well-founded) demand for radical police and judicial reforms has been reduced to the formula (which is a deterrent for the majority of Americans): “Get rid of the police!”
So there is no consolation that both sides are now relieved to hear the verdict from the Minneapolis jury. For many years there has also been broad agreement on the finding that the American police and judicial system is dysfunctional, even broken. Because it keeps millions and millions of poor Americans, including a disproportionately large number of black men, trapped in a labyrinth of a lack of prospects and crime. The judiciary is not designed for rehabilitation, but for hardship against a precariat, which many citizens (read: voters, taxpayers, party donors) fear.
The direct election of police officers, prosecutors and judges; the funding of the judiciary through fees that released offenders can barely raise legally; the crude bond system that leads to much harsher punishments for the poor; the economic interests of private prison operators and many other factors are the causes of a colossal social imbalance. Added to this is the affinity for violence in a country that has made an ideological litmus test out of the question of whether weapons of war belong on the streets. No, cops don’t have it easy in this society. In many places, your training leaves much to be desired.
Biden wanted a working group
Pelosi’s unsuccessful thanks to the murdered man served the purpose of stirring up grist for a bill that had already been passed in the House of Representatives but had no chance in the Senate and was named after George Floyd. It contains all sorts of suggestions on how the federal government could better investigate racism allegations in the country’s thousands of independent police units and ensure that police officers’ misconduct is punished. The Democrats also want to ensure that cases of fatal police violence are statistically recorded nationwide for the first time.
These are sensible projects and are definitely more valuable than the keep-up idea propagated by Joe Biden during the election campaign of setting up a working group against racism and police violence in the White House. But in view of the dimensions of the social and legal political challenge, it is all just a drop in a hot stone.
George Floyd is not a civil rights martyr like Martin Luther King. But that does not mean that the millions and millions of Americans are wrong who declared the drug addict, with multiple criminal records and five imprisonment, to be an icon of their struggle when he was arrested on suspicion of paying with a fake $ 20 bill. Society urgently needs to consider how it deals with this class of people – the class of George Floyd.
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