More than 50 protesters were arrested during demonstrations held against the release of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin, who is being charged with second-degree murder for the death of George Floyd, posted a $1 million bond last week. The conflict set the stage for nationwide protests alleging Chauvin intentionally killed Floyd for racial reasons, and that the encounter is evidence of systematic racism within police departments in America. Since that time, many demonstrations have turned violent, resulting in more animus between police officers and members of the communities they protect.
The direct cause of Floyd’s death has been challenged. While many Americans have been told that Floyd was killed while Chauvin was subduing him by pressing his knee onto his neck, a private autopsy revealed Floyd had a substantial amount of drugs in his system — including fentanyl — at the time of the encounter.
Despite this, Chauvin has been disavowed by nearly every public figure — including conservative politicians. Nevertheless, the Democratic Party has managed to turn the incident into an election issue, with presidential candidate Joe Biden and others suggesting that Republicans like President Donald Trump are empowering racism within police departments.
It’s important to note that the George Floyd case is still ongoing. However, prosecutors in the case may have overplayed their hand. By charging Chauvin with second-degree murder (as opposed to a lesser charge like manslaughter), prosectors are now tasked with proving that the former police officer intended to kill Floyd during the encounter. So far, no evidence of this has been made public.
Politicizing incidents like these will do little more than sow further division in America. Black Lives Matter, the organization behind many of the most notable demonstrations throughout the country, has lost much of the public approval it had during the immediate aftermath of Floyd’s death. Americans had a rare opportunity for unity — but that seems impossible now.
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