I don’t know about you, but I’ve found the testimony from the first week of the George Floyd murder trial to be excruciating. Listening to the witnesses recount their shock and horror of watching Floyd be slowly and gruesomely murdered right before their disbelieving eyes traumatized me as much as it re-traumatized them.
This week features the police officers who condemned Chauvin’s actions and clearly stated that it was against best police practices in general and Minneapolis police policy in specific has just left me pissed off, especially considering that in Chauvin’s 19 years on the force, he’s had 18 complaints for use of excessive force and other instances of misconduct filed against him. All this police testimony has just pissed me off because it lays bare what a rouge officer Chauvin was and how little the city did to stop him.
For the past two weeks, I’ve debated whether to offer any commentary or analysis of the case. There is lots to write about grief, survivor’s guilt, secondary victimization or trauma, PTSD, and retraumatization. There is lots that can be written about Floyd and his struggles with drug addiction and Chauvin’s psychiatric diagnosis. I’m just not sure that I’m up to the task emotionally.
The one thing that I feel compelled to offer is commentary on this, by now, iconic photo:
This image haunts me. I cannot get the expression on Chauvin’s face and his posture out of my mind. When I see his face I see an expression of pride and defiance. He knows exactly what he is doing. He’s doing in part because there is an audience begging him not to. He’s proud of doing it in spite of their pleas. He’s enjoying murdering Floyd and the onlooker’s reaction to it.
His hands are in his pockets! Look ma! No hands! The boast of every boy as he attempts some act of daring do. He’s showing us how little effort it takes to kill someone. He’s showing us how casual it is.
He has no remorse, no shame, and no guilt.
His eighteen years of commiting police brutality tells me that he is life-course persistent antisocial behavior. In our common vernacular, he’s an incorrigible psychopath. And, he’s not going to change. There is no reforming the bastard. The system has left him to his own devices for too long. His sadism has reified and corroded his soul.
The other thing that will haunt me from that trial is Darnella Frazier tearfully explaining that she apologizes to Floyd for not having done more to save his life. It breaks my heart knowing the pain that she and the other survivors will live with as they struggle to forgive themselves for not having done the impossible and stopped Chauvin from murdering Floyd.
I feel guilty for not having been there. To cope with the horror of police officer slowly squeezing the life out Floyd, I tell myself that had I been there, I would’ve stopped it. I fantasize about how I could’ve done it. My favorite is leading the gathered group in a loud kneeling prayer trying to shame the officers into stopping. Maybe singing “Amazing Grace.” I doubt anyone could’ve dissuaded Chauvin and the other officers from their murderous task that day. I would love to hear your fantasies about how you could’ve stopped it or the reactions that you’re having to the trial and his murder.