The Chauvin Verdict and Lessons from Brown: Who Are We, America?

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JURIST Legal News & Research Services, Inc.




On April 20, 2021, a jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. Following the trial, Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw reflected that “until the very moment the verdict was read, it was an entirely open question whether, to paraphrase the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott, Black people had rights that anyone was bound to respect.” Crenshaw’s words underscore that no matter the evidence—not even video of knee on neck—the trial confronted an American script in which accountability so often eludes the annihilation of Black bodies. And as Devon Carbado reminds us, the law is not a passive bystander in this script, but rather facilitates and immunizes police violence—a “co-conspirator” of sorts. Even so, the jury delivered the “right verdict”—and with it, a moment of long-awaited relief for many.

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