A Modern Day Lynching: The Case for First Degree Murder for Derek Chauvin

derek chauvin trial

Pictures speak a thousand words. Videos speak volumes. That is why I am beginning this article with the video that started it all to remind the reader what happened that eventful evening to George Floyd. We must never forget what happened so that it never happens again. We must watch it till it makes us sick to our stomachs. We must watch it till we ourselves cannot breathe because we are watching a murder in broad daylight. This is not an episode of Chicago PD and we are not watching Hank Voight beat a suspect at the tombs – this is real life police brutality the likes of which even Hank Voight would not partake in. Derek Chauvin and his pals are not good guys. 

This is the video that Darnella Frazier, the 18 year-old teen who had the tenacity and courage to hold the camera firmly and determinedly on the events of that evening for all the world to eventually witness recorded –

It went viral – a bird’s eye view to a brutal first degree murder with accomplices who should be equally tried for first degree murder. Watch it again.

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021 an emotional Darnella Frazier testified for the prosecution in a riveting testimony reminding the jury and the prosecution that it could have been any one of her relatives or friends that day.

“When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles,” Frazier said. She said she has stayed up some nights “apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”

But, she said, “it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he (Chauvin) should have done.”

Wednesday’s witness, Christopher Martin, the Cup Foods store clerk who took the twenty dollar bill from George Floyd, testified that he believed George Floyd did not know that he was passing a counterfeit twenty dollar bill. The guilt he felt coming through the camera: knowing that if he just took the bill and did not “second guess” himself we would not be here today. How this young man processes the guilt he feels I cannot say, but no one should have to bear that burden. How could he have known that a simple phone phone call would have turned into a murder by the police? https://ksltv.com/458813/store-cashier-who-says-george-floyd-gave-him-fake-20-bill-testifies-in-chauvin-trial/

Charles McMillian, who described himself as a “nosy person” who saw the commotion as he was driving by and pulled over on the Cup Foods side of the street to watch, broke down completely in court. I had trouble watching it. Does he wish he wasn’t so “nosy”? 

“McMillian began to cry as the video of Floyd saying “Mama, Mama!” and “I can’t breathe” is played.”

“”I feel helpless,” McMillian explained. The court took a short break so he could collect himself.”

“McMillian said that as the officers were holding Floyd down, Floyd appeared to be “in and out” and with white foam around his mouth. He heard Floyd keep asking to be let up.”

“”Even I said to the officer, I said, ‘man, he said he can’t breathe.’ They said, ‘if he keep talking, well, he can breathe,'” McMillian said.”

“McMillian says he understood Floyd’s statements — that he couldn’t breathe, that his stomach hurt — to indicate that “he was in trouble” and going to die.”

On the morning of Wednesday, March 31 a juror had a “stress related reaction” because of the emotional impact this trial is taking on her. This is notable because to witness a murder leaves it mark on the human psyche. And the videos are being replayed over and over again. The emotional toll is not just affecting the witnesses it has an impact on the jurors who must decide the fate of Derek Chauvin. George Floyd’s death has affected the nation. We are unwell. We are unwell when the police can lynch a man.


“A juror in the high-profile trial against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd had a “stress-related reaction” Wednesday.”

“Juror 7 returned to the courtroom Wednesday while the rest of the jury was out of the room during a break and was seated on the witness stand.” 

“Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill asked the woman how she was feeling.”

““I’m shaky, but better,” the juror responded.”

“The judge asked her if she had a “stress-related reaction” adding, “We have to make a record of this.””

“The juror said that she did and the judge said he understands she has been having trouble sleeping.” 

“The juror then said she had been awake since 2 a.m.”

““I think I’ll be OK going forward,” she added.”

Derek Chauvin knew George Floyd from the club that Floyd worked at as a bouncer. They may have “bumped heads”. This changes everything. Or does it? Chauvin is just a homegrown racist bully with a badge. If he recognized Floyd then there might be a motive. https://www.newsweek.com/derek-chauvin-george-floyd-nightclub-minneapolis-1509880

“A former coworker of George Floyd and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has come forward to claim that the pair clashed while they worked together at a nightclub.”

“David Pinney, who also worked at the El Nuevo Rodeo club in Minneapolis, told CBS Evening News that Chauvin and the man he is accused of murdering “bumped heads” while on shifts together.”

“”It has a lot to do with Derek being extremely aggressive within the club with some of the patrons, which was an issue,” Pinney said.””

“Pinney added that he is sure that Chauvin would have recognized Floyd as he kept his knee on his neck for several minutes while the 46-year-old called out “I can’t breathe” last month.”

I believe the minute Chauvin pulled Floyd out of his Mercedes he decided he was going to kill him even if he did not immediately recognize him from the club. What could have been going through Chauvin’s mind? We have a racist aggressive white cop with his racist cronies. He sees a black man in a Mercedes who might be a little high and who passed a phony twenty. ‘How dare he drive that kind of car when perhaps Chauvin himself may not be able to afford one. This guy is a menace to society and must be dealt with, no he must be eliminated.’ Chauvin was never going to take him to the police station, he was going to set up a situation where there was no way Floyd was coming out of this encounter alive. It was four against one. 

There is one thing we need to remember when anyone is taken into police custody there are universal procedures the police must follow once someone is in police custody so that a person’s rights remain protected.

“When the police arrest someone, they take away that person’s fundamental right to freedom. Consequently, there are several procedures the police must follow before they can make a legal arrest so that our rights remain protected.”

“Police aren’t allowed to use excessive force or treat the arrestee cruelly; this is universal and protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

“Generally, police officers are only allowed to use the minimum amount of force necessary to protect themselves and bring the suspect into police custody. This is why people are advised to never resist an arrest or argue with police, even if they believe the arrest is wrongful since resistance could lead to the use of more force.”

I would like to explore the third paragraph above where police officers are allowed to use the minimum amount of force necessary to protect themselves and bring the suspect into custody. George Floyd was handcuffed. There is not much a handcuffed man can do to injure four grown men even if he was struggling not to get into the police car because he was afraid and could initially not breathe. I would say that pulling a cuffed man out of the police car and holding him down with a knee to his neck qualifies as excessive force. 


“Excessive force refers to situations where government officials legally entitled to use force exceed the minimum amount necessary to diffuse an incident or to protect themselves or others from harm. This can come up in different contexts, such as when handling prisoners or even during military operations. When it involves law enforcement, especially during an arrest, it’s also referred to as police brutality.”

“The constitutional right to be protected from excessive force is found in the reasonable search and seizure requirement of the Fourth Amendment and the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment in the Eighth Amendment.”

This was a premeditated public lynching as brutal and cruel as any public lynching from the 19th and 20th century Reconstruction period meant to spread fear among the black population. The knee to the neck was a metaphor for the noose meant to choke the breath out of George Floyd as the angry police officers stood by but the twist was the horrified crowd was prevented from helping and the lynching was done by the very people we as a society expect to protect us.  

“For many African Americans growing up in the South in the 19th and 20th centuries, the threat of lynching was commonplace. The popular image of an angry white mob stringing a black man up to a tree is only half the story. Lynching, an act of terror meant to spread fear among blacks, served the broad social purpose of maintaining white supremacy in the economic, social and political spheres.”

“Lynchings were frequently committed with the most flagrant public display.”

Derek Chauvin must be found guilty of first degree murder. This was a cold calculated decision to snuff the life of a cuffed human being while his fellow officers barred the crowd from helping as Chauvin held his knee to George Floyd’s neck – hands casually in his pants pockets –  and the knee remained long enough to assure there would be no life left in George Floyd by the time an ambulance arrived. 

 Derek Chauvin deserves Gen pop but he will probably get special housing. 

Author: Sherri Margolin (Dark Matters)

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