Opening statements began today for the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former officer of the MPD who is being charged with the murder of George Flloyd’s death. The county medical examiner ruled the death a homicide by a combination of the police officer’s use of force, drugs, fentanyl and methamphetamine, in Mr. Floyd’s system and underlying health conditions. This trial is drawing strong connections to the Rodney King case where a jury acquitted four LAPD Officers in Mr. King’s filmed beating.
Rodney King Beating, 1992
It has been 30 years since the riots in Los Angeles captivated the world with the handheld home video camera footage of racially charged vigilante street justice. This was a time before social media and cell phones made sharing first hand accounts immediate and viral.
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The beating recorded by George Holliday was a pivotal moment for our nation and showed the world race relations in the United States. The assumption was that the officers would be tried and convicted, but the nation watched as they were all acquitted. This led to L.A.’s 1992 Riots that destroyed many communities.
Akili, Los Angeles BLM organizer, said, “People couldn’t believe it. Because people want to believe in our justice system, we want to believe it will work. This was the first time that we could say, ‘I told you’ because there were all these incidents of LAPD’s beatings and killings that we’ve been telling people about for many years.”
Even after this 1992 case, demands for change have increased along with violence, rioting and looting.
More than 60 lives were lost with nearly 2500 injured and $700 million in damages in the Rodney King case. Also, the damage destroyed many communities and displaced a lot of hardworking business owners in the process. If the riots we saw at the end of 2020 are any indication of what we can expect, it isn’t too far of a jump to think we won’t see a similar fall out should Derek Chauvin be acquitted.
Defeat Will Not Go Well
It would be naive to think that the BLM movement would take a defeat of this magnitude quietly. We’ve already seen cities across the country burning in the wake of the incident. The Los Angeles riots resulted in $775 million in insurance claims while the BLM riot went across 20 states and cost the insurance industry up to $2 Billion.
The aftermath was tragic and unforgettable, to say the least. For those of us who watched the live footage from our TVs at home, we are reminded that this can and is likely to happen again. BLM riots have already occurred moments after the George Floyd video was released and this could rekindle the rioters and looters.
Can Derek Chauvin get a fair trial?
This is one of the first times in history where we as a nation will experience a sensational trial under the restrictions of the COVID Pandemic. Judge Peter Cahill began today’s session with clear instructions to the jurors. Also, it will be the state’s duty to ensure due process. Any failure to do so can result in a mistrial. In this case, we may see a similar reaction as an acquittal.
As emotions run high on both sides of the story, the question remains – can Chauvin get a fair trial?
It would be prudent to prepare for any outcome including one that includes riots, looting and violence. No two cases are alike, and unlike the Rodney King case, George Flloyd’s autopsy report showed drugs in his system including fentanyl and meth. The defense in the Derek Chauvin murder trial opening statement focused on George Floyd being under the influence and having heart issues already.
The similarities between both cases reside in the fact that the situation was caught in live time with video. Unlike the Rodney King video, there were many onlookers filming George Flloyd’s untimely death. The Rodney King case could have a part in shaping the outcomes of the Chauvin trial because of the many similarities of video and excessive force used by officers.
Whichever way the Chauvin trial goes, people who remember the Rodney King beating and trial all want to see society change and grow. Everyone should stay focused on the facts and not emotion. Former King Attorney Burris also urges everyone fighting for justice to focus on societal change and the trial unfolds.
Breaking News Alerts will keep you up to date with trial information as more information is made available.