MANSFIELD: Blue Privilege

After witnessing one of the worse demonstrations of white privilege — where the white Republican members of the Georgia State Legislature enacted new Jim Crow laws meant to limit the ability of black and brown people to exercise their legitimate franchise (even barring the handing out of bottled water to folks waiting in line to vote) — I wasn’t keen on witnessing another form of privilege. But I nonetheless still tuned into the Minnesota murder trial currently underway in the killing of George Floyd.

In his opening remarks, defense attorney Eric Nelson’s only strategy appeared to be to denigrate and blame the victim, George Floyd. He attempted to convince the jury that preexisting medical conditions and the presence of drugs in his system were the causes of Floyd’s death, not the knee that former cop V. Derek Chauvin applied to his neck for over nine minutes.

In essence, Nelson was attempting to convince the jurors that, absent Chauvin’s knee on his neck, George Floyd would have died anyway — and I suppose at that exact same time he actually expired. However, under Minnesota law, even if Chauvin’s actions were not the primary cause and only contributed to Floyd’s death, he still is culpable and therefore under the law is guilty.

Pointing to the video of Floyd’s killing played in court, Nelson urged jurors to not believe their eyes.

“Remember there is more to the scene than what officers see in front of them. It’s what officers can perceive to be a threat. Derek Chauvin did exactly as he was trained to do throughout his 19-year career,” Nelson insisted. “The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing.”

Nelson went so far as to attempt to blame the gathering crowd of citizens who witnessed and recorded the killing on their phones for somehow being responsible for Floyd’s death because they were becoming upset and demanded that Floyd be allowed to breathe.

However, some violence-prone cops and their supporters would argue they have an unstated but well-understood privilege to use such excessive force, a cop “blue” privilege to use violence if you will. Immediately after the Civil War, law enforcement, starting in the South, began to portray black males as violent predators possessing superhuman strength, thus justifying the use of lethal force, the type of force Chauvin used on George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020 and former NYC cop Daniel Pantaleo used in the strangulation killing of Eric Garner in July of 2014.

While Derek Chauvin, similar to anyone else in the country, has the right to a vigorous legal defense, the tactic of blaming the victim — George Floyd — for his own death will result in a furthering of the divide between police and communities of color across the country. Similar to white privilege, blue privilege has to be banished from the American landscape if the country is to have a ghost of a chance of healing across the currently widening racial chasm.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsIn


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