Derek Chauvin murder trial spotlights America’s social ills: Advocates

first_imgCourt TV via ABC News(MINNEAPOLIS) — At the start of the Derek Chauvin murder trial for the killing of George Floyd, defense attorney Eric Nelson asked jurors to exercise their common sense and apply sound judgment based solely on the evidence presented, stressing, “there is no political or social cause in this courtroom.”But advocates say that the social ills that disproportionately impact minority communities are on display in a case where a white officer knelt on the neck of a Black man for more than 9 minutes, despite his cries and even after he had no pulse. And they say that, as in other trials that involve Black men, the victim himself is facing more scrutiny than the suspect.The Rev. Fredrick Douglas Haynes III, the pastor of the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, told ABC News that while the courtroom may not be the appropriate venue for social activism, America’s most entrenched and vexing social ills are an integral part of the case.Haynes said that in his weekly sermons to the 12,000 members of his congregation and an estimated 25,000 logging into his online broadcasts, he has for years touched on a plethora of issues plaguing the nation that have surfaced once again in the high-profile case: the opioid crisis, the deadly COVID pandemic, record unemployment, health problems that have disproportionately affected Black and minority communities, police brutality, police reform and the underlying scourge of racism.“It’s not just Derek Chauvin on trial, America is on trial. Our systems are on trial,” Haynes told ABC News.David Weinstein, a former federal and state prosecutor in Florida, said he can understand why people feel the way they do, given the frequency of which Black people are killed in encounters with police. But, he added, “that’s not exactly the way the criminal justice system and our court system is set up to work.”“It’s Derek Chauvin who’s on trial and our system is a system that works if you let jurors hear and see the evidence and they make up their minds, and then we accept the verdict,” Weinstein told ABC News. “Then we know our system works.”Pandemic and painDuring the prosecution’s case, Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, told the jury of Floyd’s battle with COVID just weeks before his death. The pandemic also left the security guard and millions of Americans unemployed. Ross said they both struggled with opioid addiction, calling it “a classic story.”“We both suffered from chronic pain,” she said. “Mine was in my neck, and his was in his back. We both had prescriptions. But after prescriptions were filled, we got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction.”Medical experts called by both the prosecution and defense have dissected Floyd’s health problems, specifically hypertension and undiagnosed coronary disease, ailments that disproportionately affect Black and other minority communities. In February, the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health reported that in 2018 African Americans were 30% more likely than whites to die from heart disease, and 40% more likely to have high blood pressure.Haynes said the prosecution has highlighted Floyd’s challenges in an attempt to humanize him and explain the low levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system during an autopsy were not enough to kill him. But the defense has used those same social ills to argue the drugs and his diseased heart were key contributing factors to his death on May 25, 2020 — more so than the knee Chauvin was seen in numerous videos applying to the back of the man’s neck.During the trial, which heads into closing arguments on Monday, the prosecution has argued Chauvin was the primary cause of Floyd’s death. Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy on Floyd and ruled his death a homicide, testified that drugs and heart disease were contributing factors to Floyd’s demise, but that it was the police restraint that “tipped him over the edge.”“I pastor a church community where I’ve seen how COVID has economically wreaked havoc on so many and has resulted in persons who have sought means of coping,” Haynes said. “We often criminalize Black people when they seek to have coping mechanisms that are often addictive. And so it’s not really surprising.”He said the medical conditions Floyd suffered are planted in what he called “medical apartheid,” meaning a lack of access to good health care. “Those comorbidities are rooted in a system that has failed us,” Haynes said.And while the social ill of racism has not been emphasized, or widely mentioned, during the trial, Haynes said it doesn’t have to be.“It’s so blatant because, No. 1, the fact that Derek Chauvin did not see the humanity of George Floyd. There was no response to his cries,” Haynes said. “Racism is a contradiction of humanity. And racism is not just, ‘I don’t like you because of your skin color.’ Racism, systemic racism, is when I believe I can do certain things to you because of your skin color and get away with it.”“So, then the racism is all through it, even trying to put George Floyd on trial and whatever weaknesses George Floyd may have had,” he added. “George Floyd is the victim here. Derek Chauvin is not the victim. Again, that’s how racism operates.”Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. His defense has been he was acting in accordance with standard police training when he and two other officers placed a handcuffed Floyd in a prone position with his face smashed into the pavementWhile Haynes and other social-justice advocates insist racism played a role in Chauvin’s alleged indifference to Floyd’s repeated cries of “I can’t breathe,” Weinstein said prosecutors presented no evidence to support it.“Certainly without him (Chauvin) testifying, we’re not going to know what his thought process was,” Weinstein said.Police brutality ‘still with us’But Rev. William Barber, co-chairman of The Poor People’s Campaign, a national anti-poverty coalition, said systematic racism has clearly been the elephant in the courtroom.“The first social ill is the culture of policing, where a white officer, and it wouldn’t matter if it was a Black officer, but a white officer feels OK to keep his knee on the neck of a man screaming, begging for his life and he can’t breathe. Not only while he’s hollering, but after they could no longer feel a pulse,” Barber told ABC News.Barber noted that during the 1963 March on Washington, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of police brutality. “It’s still with us,” he said. “So, we’ve got the biggest social ill in policing — the violence against minority people, Black men and women and Latinos and others, with seeming impunity.”Barber said the inequality in the justice system has also reared its head in the Chauvin trial. While the jury has heard of Floyd’s life in detail, Barber said they’ve learned little about Chauvin’s background.Jurors have been told Chauvin was a police officer for 19 years, his last day on the job was the day after Floyd died, and that he was trained and retrained on the policies and practices of the Minneapolis Police Department, including first aid and CPR, which prosecutors say he failed to use even after being told Floyd no longer had a pulse.The defense showed the jury this week video of a May 6, 2019 arrest of Floyd, and heard testimony alleging he was under the influence of drugs during the police encounter. However, the panel heard nothing about the multiple complaints filed against Chauvin. His personnel file was heavily redacted and only one incident, a traffic stop in which he pulled a woman out of her car for going 10 mph over the speed limit, resulted in a reprimand.“But what we know most about him is that on that day he put his full-body weight on a man’s neck and basically lynched him in public,” Barber said. “And that says a lot about him, even though we might not know other personal things. What is in your mindset when you do that? There was no threat, Mr. Floyd, brother Floyd, was restrained … people were begging that he let him up, and (Floyd) himself was begging. He was trying, and yet he (Chauvin) literally strangled the life out of this man on camera.”Barber said one aspect of the trial that heartened him was seeing Chauvin’s former police colleagues reject the so-called “Blue Wall of Silence” and take the witness stand, testifying the force he used on Floyd was unreasonable, unnecessary and not written anywhere in Minneapolis Police Department’s policies and practices.“Something good is happening,” Barber said, “and that is that police are willing to contradict one another.”Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

The man in the news

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Spacious family abode on acreage hits the market in Morayfield

first_imgThe kitchen has recently been renovated. Picture: Supplied.The single-storey home has an open-plan kitchen and dining room, living area, games room and family room. The new kitchen has an island bench, stone benchtops, walk-in pantry and gas cooktop. More from newsLand grab sees 12 Sandstone Lakes homesites sell in a week21 Jun 2020Tropical haven walking distance from the surf9 Oct 2019The dining and family rooms open to the back deck. The master bedroom has an ensuite and built-in wardrobe, and four of the remaining bedrooms have built-in wardrobes. The home at 35 Burness Ct, Morayfield. Picture: Supplied.THIS sprawling family home is on a private 8033sq m block with established trees, sheds and large timber deck. Owners Ray and Rona Wall purchased the six-bedroom property at 35 Burness Ct, Morayfield eight years ago. “We bought the home from the original builder and we completely renovated it from one end to another,” Mrs Wall said.“We totally gutted the place and started again — everything is new.“My husband is a cabinet maker and he did the kitchen, bathrooms and wardrobes. “He fully decked out the office and the study, though they are fully removable.” The home is on a private block with established gardens and trees. Picture: Supplied.One of the bedrooms has been set up as a study and also has access to the front porch. The main bathroom has a free standing tub and there is also a separate toilet, sewing room and a laundry with built-in storage.Mrs Wall said the best thing about the home was the space. “The rooms are all large and there is so much storage,” she said. center_img The back deck looks out over the private block. Picture: Supplied.“I also love the back deck — it’s an extension of the home and we use it all year round.” The property comes with two powered sheds, extended double garage, bitumen driveway, chook pen and veggie patch. The block is fully-fenced and has manicured gardens and a 10,000L water tank.“It’s very quiet and peaceful, and there is just so much space,” Mrs Wall said. “It’s perfect for a family or someone with a big extended family who come to visit.” The home is being marketed by Leanne Kroes or Remax Platinum.last_img read more

Editorial: Prime obligation lies with parents

first_imgDominion Post 12 Dec 2012Poverty harmful to children. No-one will dispute the central tenet of the child poverty report released this week by Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills.Kids who go to school hungry struggle to learn. Kids who live in damp, cold, crowded homes get sick. Kids  who grow up poor are more likely to struggle as adults.Where readers may be inclined to part company with the commissioner’s expert advisory group is over how to tackle the problem.The authors, who include prominent academics as well as Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly and Salvation Army social policy director Major Campbell Roberts, pay lip service to the notion of reciprocal obligations. They say they were guided  by the notion of a ”social contract” that recognises the mutual responsibilities of parents, the community and wider society.However, when it comes to the pointy end of the exercise they have a  lot to say to the Government and nothing to say to parents. The report contains 78 recommendations. Seventy-eight of those are directed at the Government; none are directed at parents.It is, the group appears to believe, the state’s responsibility to ensure that every child has the opportunity to fulfil its potential. That is not possible.  The state cannot be a surrogate parent. It cannot provide love, it cannot offer encouragement and  it cannot set boundaries.http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/editorials/8070631/Editorial-Prime-obligation-lies-with-parentslast_img read more

Syracuse basketball opponent preview: What to know about Virginia Tech

first_imgHow Syracuse beats Virginia Tech: Syracuse forces opponents to play the slowest brand of basketball in the country, and that greatly contrasts with Virginia Tech, a team that uses less than 16 seconds of the shot clock on average, per Kenpom. The Hokies don’t shoot the 3 ball well, so Syracuse should try and force them into taking long-range shots. That was something SU did a good job of against North Carolina earlier in January. The Orange can’t let LeDay have his way and it can’t let Allen go off like he has the past two games. If the Orange controls pacing and spacing, it shouldn’t be too hard to beat a Virginia Tech team that has proven itself to be quite beatable.Statistic to know: Virginia Tech doesn’t take or make many 3s. That is, except for Bibbs. The Hokies have made 123 3-pointers on the season, and Bibbs has made 49 of those. He shoots at a 50.5 percent clip, which is good for 13th in the nation.Player to watch: Allen, a point guard, has been the primary reason why Virginia Tech has thrived at the line. He’s taken 142 free throws this season, and has made 108 of those, including 50 of his past 61 (82 percent). He’s an awful 3-point shooter (28.3 percent), but his ability to generate scoring is why he’s been the catalyst for Virginia Tech in the past couple of games. Comments Published on February 1, 2016 at 10:35 am Syracuse (15-8, 5-5 Atlantic Coast) hosts Virginia Tech (12-10, 4-5) in the third game of a four-game home stand on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The Orange has won the first two over then-No. 25 Notre Dame and Georgia Tech to propel itself back into the thick of the ACC standings.Here’s everything you need to know about the Hokies.All-time series: Tuesday will mark the 10th all-time meeting. Syracuse is 7-2 in the first nine, and has won the last seven times dating back to 2000.Last time they played: Virginia Tech got ahead of Syracuse 63-50 with just over six minutes to play in the Carrier Dome on Feb. 3, 2015. Ron Patterson helped lead the charge back and Michael Gbinije scored six points in the final 37 seconds, including a game-winner right before the buzzer to win the game, 72-70.“One of the best plays in that situation that I’ve seen,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said after the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textJustin Bibbs and Jalen Hudson combined for 37 points, while Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 36.The next afternoon, Syracuse University announced a self-imposed postseason ban that barred the team from competing in the ACC tournament and NCAA Tournament in 2015.The Virginia Tech report: The Hokies, led by former Marquette head coach Buzz Williams, enter Tuesday night on a four-game losing streak. Their last win came against Georgia Tech on Jan. 16. Their signature of the season win came against Virginia at home on Jan. 4. That victory came amid a surprising 4-1 start to the conference season. Their worst losses include a home defeat to Alabama State and a 17-point drubbing vs. St. Joseph’s at Barclays Center.Virginia Tech features a fast-paced offense that looks to score inside and get fouled a lot — more than a quarter of its points come from the free-throw line, per Kenpom.com. Maryland transfer Seth Allen has been the Hokies’ best scorer of late, totaling a combined 54 points in VT’s past two games. Zach LeDay leads the team in scoring (16) and rebounding (8.1) and has stepped up after Chris Clarke went down with an injury in December. Related Stories Syracuse basketball roundtable: Syracuse’s ‘small’ lineup, Malachi Richardson and what Syracuse must proveSchneidman: The 3-pointer is no longer life or death for Syracuse basketballWhat we learned from Syracuse’s 60-57 win over Georgia TechMalachi Richardson closes out Syracuse’s win over Georgia TechGbinije closes out Syracuse’s comeback victory over Hokies with clutch crunch-time scoringcenter_img Daily Orange File Photo Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more