Those who still doubt that the so-called “trial” of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had taken on the characteristics of a ritualized persecution of a scapegoat have an abundance of supporting evidence that they can examine.
The idea that Chauvin would ultimately be convicted, whatever the actual facts of the case happened to be, was never really in doubt by those who understand the current cultural and political environment that America finds itself in.
First, the case carried enormous political import. Minneapolis had already suffered months of devastating riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death, and the looming threat of further riots was always there, should the jury happen to reach the “wrong” conclusion.
Second, the jury was not sequestered properly, which is a blatant violation of standard judicial protocol — especially in a widely publicized and polarizing case like this one. Moreover, details about various jurors’ names and home addresses were leaked, and there is no question that the jurors were subjected to threats and intimidation in order to get them to decide the case in the “right” way.
Not only that but there is also the additional factor that at least one member of the Chauvin trial jury, 31-year-old Brandon Mitchell, is a Black Lives Matter supporter and activist who is known to have worn the organization’s memorabilia, attend its protests and generally express public support for its causes.
Moreover, after the trial, Mitchell encouraged political activists to try and worm their way onto juries so as to sway the justice system in their preferred direction.
But all of this is still not enough for the baying mob.
Bringing vindictiveness to a fever pitch, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is known to have written in support of black nationalism during his younger days, is reportedly seeking to inflict an especially harsh prison sentence upon Chauvin.
Attacking the Scapegoat
Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25 following his conviction on three counts: second degree-unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. In total, he faces up to 40 years in prison for these charges.
Generally, state sentencing guidelines recommend that, in the case of convictions like this, those convicted should not be sentenced to more than 12 1/2 years in prison if the person convicted has no previous criminal record and if there were no “aggravating factors” that might warrant a higher sentence.
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson argues that prosecutors failed to prove the presence of such “aggravating factors” during the trial. On Tuesday, May 4, Nelson filed a motion requesting a new trial since he argues that Chauvin’s right to a fair trial was not respected. The charged racial and political atmosphere in Minneapolis, he says, made that impossible.
However, despite all of this, the Biden DOJ is still reported moving forward with plans to charge Chauvin with civil rights violations, which would further elongate his prison sentence.
This trial was not justice. It was a ritualistic purging. It’s possible that Chauvin may earn a retrial, but given the current political environment, we shouldn’t hold our breath.