OPINION: Chauvin verdict solidifies America’s stance on police brutality

Chauvin+kneeling+on+the+kneck+of+George+Floyd+after+he+repeatedly+stated+that+he+could+not+breathe.+%28Left%29+The+mugshot+of+former+Minneapolis+officer+Derek+Chauvin+%28Right%29

New York Post

Chauvin kneeling on the kneck of George Floyd after he repeatedly stated that he could not breathe. (Left) The mugshot of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin (Right)

Ever since the civil rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s, a spotlight has been placed on the struggles and injustices faced by African Americans.

The movement has led to many pieces of legislation and reforms over the past couple of decades such as The Civil Rights Act of 1964; arguably the most important piece of legislation for equality in the U.S, as it outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

The police killing of George Floyd back in May of 2020 has brought the nation’s attention back to the ongoing fight for accountability and solutions for problems in the system that allow for racist acts to continue. A summer of protests which rocked the nation, followed by a change of president shows that many of the citizens of the U.S are ready for change and are willing to go on a different path to get the results they desire.

There are many things in the system which plenty of Americans see as institutionally racist or systemically discriminatory, and policing seems to top this list and appears continuously while people discuss the topic of racism. Over just the past few years, there have been many policing incidents involving suspects who were black. One of such includes the shooting of Tamir Rice back in 2014 after being mistaken for holding a gun when in reality, he was actually holding a toy gun. Another incident that recently occurred was the police pepper-spraying a black army officer in Virginia for a minor suspected offense which he ended up being released for with no penalties.

With many incidents involving black suspects and police, many black Americans have been begging for accountability for the many police officers who kill and mishandle suspects and easily get away with the vicious acts. Many years have gone by, and with them, many incidents and killings without any solutions or legislation to prevent them from ever happening again. The Derek Chauvin verdict, however, seems to mark a major change for the nation in attitude and direction.

Police officers have for decades been protected from prosecution thanks to a special status called “qualified immunity.” Qualified immunity was established in 1982 and has been

The image above shows Derek Chauvin being handcuffed and taken into custody after being found guilty on all three counts. One count of third-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, and one count of manslaughter. / Pc: KARE11

used to protect officers and other government officials from being held to the same standard as an ordinary citizen.

This controversial policy has left average citizens feeling unprotected and at times unsafe due to the problem that the special status protects officers and allows them to get away with behavior that would otherwise not be tolerated by the rule of law if done by an ordinary citizen. Because police officers are given so much power, tools, and funding in the U.S, the average person is right to be skeptical of special protections given to police since their fate and wellbeing could rest right in their hands in times of crime or an emergency.

With the killing of George Floyd, more Americans have started to open their eyes and focus their attention on

the policing problems that have disproportionately been affecting colored communities for many decades.  Many American’s have turned a blind eye to the problem, or even refused to acknowledge that the problem exists.

 

The Chauvin verdict seems to have once and for all shatter the myth that the system is perfect. Despite all the protections in place for police officers and the long record of officers getting little to no punishment for killing or abusing their suspects, the courts have spoken and have punished and charged Chauvin on all three counts for murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis.

This ruling is monumental as it shows that the people of the U.S and their voices have led to change. Almost a year of protests, petitions, and a presidential election has shown that the people of America have acknowledged the problems of police brutality and racism and that they are ready for changes and alterations in the system.

The results from the ruling were so influential that they would be used as a basis for future lawsuits for many years to come. Future officers will be charged and the Chauvin case will be used as a reference for justice and a basis for punishment. The way America’s rule of law is looked at on the world stage was also shaped by the ruling of this case.

As Americans have let their frustration be heard, a path has been paved for further change in the system. The ruling was just the foundation for a long road to recovery and a permanent change in the system that will eliminate the problems we see today.

We may soon be seeing another piece of legislation passed and signed off as the nation saw in 1964 with the civil rights act. This new legislation will reflect America’s never-ending strive for equality just as numerous other pieces of legislation had over the 200 years plus lifespan of the United States.

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