By Qur’an Hansford
In the closing of May, George Floyd, a man in handcuffs, died after a Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd’s death was captured by a bystander video that set off protests around the world. Four officers were fired. Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter; Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Chauvin was recently released from Oak Park Heights Correctional Facility, east of Minneapolis (a maximum-security state prison), after he posted bond on a $1 million bail, according to CNN.
As we were at home during the beginning stages of COVID-19, we were forced to watch police brutality take the life of Floyd, sparking a 100 days of protest in all 50 states (for the first time in history) and over 60 countries. Protestors hit the streets as the victims of police brutality achieved no justice. This led to Minnesota’s governor activating the National Guard to help keep the peace in the event of protests.
Judge Jeannice M. Reding set bail for Chauvin four months ago, putting it at $1 million with conditions or $1.25 million without conditions, according to NPR.
In Minnesota, someone who posts a bond is required to pay 10%, in this case, $100,000, to the bail bond company. Then, the company and the defendant work out an arrangement for collateral to back all or part of the rest of the bond amount, said Mike Brandt, a criminal defense attorney who spoke with AP News.
Chauvin had the option of posting bail for $1.25 million without conditions or $1 million with conditions. Under the conditions of his release, “he must attend all court appearances, cannot have any direct or indirect contact — including social media contact — with any members of Floyd’s family, cannot work in law enforcement or security, and must not possess any firearms or ammunition,” according to AP News.
By posting the lower bail amount, Chauvin will have to abide by all laws, have no contact with Floyd’s family and surrender any guns and firearms licenses. He will also be required not to leave Minnesota.
In a handwritten note on her order setting the bail amounts, the judge added a stipulation for Chauvin: “Do not work in law enforcement or security.” Chauvin’s next court date is on March 8, when his trial is slated to begin.
Floyd’s family attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci released a statement to AP News saying Chauvin’s release “is a painful reminder” that the family is far from getting justice.
“The system of the due process worked for Chauvin and afforded him his freedom while he awaits trial. In contrast, George Floyd was denied due process, when his life was ended over a $20 bill. There was no charge, no arrest, no hearing, no bail. Just execution,” the attorneys wrote.
The term “bad apple” gets thrown around a lot in discussions revolving around police brutality but when there seem to be numerous bad apples it makes me question if it is a bad tree. Nearly one thousand people have been shot and killed by police in the past year, according to the Washington Post. How can that be reformed? How do you train the individuals when it is the system that is broken? Although the job of a police officer is not an easy one, I think that is even more reason why we should take better care of who we have to fill these jobs. The police should be held accountable for their actions but in a lot of cases, they are not, either suspended with paid leave, fired with no jail time or are allowed to post a preposterous bail and walk free. What message does that send to the people? It sends a message that there is indeed a thin blue line. It sends the message that one is untouchable behind the badge.
As someone who went out and protested for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and against police violence, Chauvin’s release is honestly discouraging. It is discouraging because it makes me believe that even with the whole world watching justice will never be truly served. Although my sentiments are not uplifting, it is my feelings on the matter, but because my words have meaning and the potential to reach another dispirited individual I will say this:
Despite losses, never stop trying. Continue to try so that all the names that we know and do not know will not die in vain. Once beings that walked amongst us, regular people living regular lives, victims of police brutality and not martyrs, they are not hashtags or pop culture figures to be plastered on magazines and memes but people were taken by force and violence. Continue to seek hope in times of adversity and do what you can no matter the size of the role because your voice matters.
George Floyd would have been 47 today.
This editorial expresses the unanimous opinion of The Rider News Editorial Board. This week’s editorial was written by Opinion Editor Qur’an Hansford.