This is Derek Chauvin’s trial. Not George Floyd’s.

Illustration by Lauren Johnson

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

Ten months. 

It has been 10 months since the murder of a fellow Black American. It has been 10 months since an officer put his knee on a Black man’s neck. It has been 10 months and still no justice.

May 25, 2020 is a day that will be remembered forever. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin responded to a call regarding a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. Somewhere along the way, the allegedly fake bill led to a knee on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

Now — 10 months later — we are being forced to relive this tragic day, those damning 9 minutes and 29 seconds, for the next month. 

On March 29, Chauvin’s trial for the murder of Floyd commenced. Chauvin faces three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Jurors will have to determine whether they believe Chauvin is guilty and provide the judge with their decision.

I have watched the trial live every day since then. Starting with opening statements, I could already see how excruciating this was going to be.

The prosecution opened with video of Floyd’s murder, which was filmed on an iPhone by 17-year-old bystander Darnella Frazier. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell highlighted the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck to open the trial. Then, they debunked any narrative of Floyd having some form of heart failure or that his drug usage attributed to his death.

The defense, however, was all over the place. Blaming paramedics, the unruly crowd of six people, Floyd’s drug usage and anything under the sun that wasn’t Chauvin. 

As the days progressed, it became abundantly clear that the defense had every intention of putting Floyd on trial. A dead man on trial. It churns my stomach every time I see Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s defense attorney, get up to speak.

In his opening statement, Nelson said, “The evidence is far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds.”

The reality is — it’s not.

If an average civilian put their knee on someone’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, this wouldn’t even be a conversation. But, we can’t expect the same treatment for police officers, right? I mean, they’re just here to protect and serve. Chauvin was simply protecting the community from a fake $20 bill and serving the area by murdering Floyd. Great job, Chauvin.

The 9 minutes and 29 seconds Chauvin used to restrain Floyd is more than enough evidence to show that Chauvin is guilty.

The 9 minutes and 29 seconds Chauvin used to restrain Floyd is more than enough evidence to show that Chauvin is guilty.

What hurts me the most is watching eyewitnesses account their version of what happened to Floyd, while tears swell in their eyes. They sob on the stand, bearing the burden and guilt of Floyd’s murder on their shoulders.

“If I would’ve just not tooken the bill, this could’ve been avoided,” said 19-year-old Christopher Martin, the cashier at Cup Foods, after he expressed how guilty he felt over the situation. 

He was just a kid doing his job. Now, he seems to be more guilt ridden and shaken up than Chauvin does. Only one of them had their knee on Floyd’s neck.

There’s no reason innocent people who were powerless in that moment should be harboring such deep pain over a murder they never committed. They shouldn’t have to think “Could I have done more?” when they never should have been in that situation to begin with.

It feels like everyone is being traumatized by this trial except the very man on it.

Sure, they’ll convict Chauvin. It’ll be this nation’s way of showing that there’s faith to be restored in the justice system. For those of us who never had faith in the system to begin with, Chauvin will serve as a win to shut us up for the foreseeable future. 

He will be our reward to compensate for the freedom of those like George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Brian Encinia and so many other white authority officers who got away with murdering innocent Black Americans.

Chauvin will be sacrificed in an effort to appease us. I hate to break it to the system, but Chauvin isn’t enough. Just because you parade him onto my television screen all afternoon, that doesn’t mean justice for Floyd has been served. 

The only person on trial here is Chauvin. He must be made to answer for his crimes and receive the punishment this oh-so-fair and just system has promised us all. There’s nothing that can bring Floyd back to his family, back to our world; however, Chauvin’s conviction will surely make the sting hurt less.

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