A rights activist says the trial of Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who killed George Floyd during an arrest last May, was a “bait-and-switch distraction” from the underlying causes of police violence against African Americans.
“I think what we are seeing here is more bait-and-switch distraction,” Netfa Freeman of Pan-African Community Action, a Washington-based grassroots group advocating for African-American rights, told Press TV on Saturday.
A judge sentenced Chauvin, who is white, to 22 years and six months in prison on Friday for the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Chauvin killed Floyd by pressing his knee to his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest confrontation as he cried out, “I cannot breathe.” The now-viral video of the incident sparked a nationwide protest movement against racism and police brutality in the United States.
Freeman said that the US corporate media is complicit in this injustice because “when they focus on trials like this, they are trying to distract from the ultimate goal of the movement.”
George Floyd’s family and civil rights advocates expressed dismay at the prison sentence handed down to Chauvin. Philonise Floyd, one of George Floyd’s brothers, said Friday that the sentencing amounted to a “slap on the wrist.”
“They are not getting justice through convicting one bad apple,” Freeman told Press TV. “The people kind of get distracted by that.”
“The system cannot really rein in its police, this force that protects and serves the settler-colonial system: white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy,” he noted.
The activist said the US government decided to give “a concession” to the American public by “throwing Derek Chauvin under the bus,” but the trial does not in the least address “the repression that the people face.”
Reacting to the sentencing, US President Joe Biden said the punishment for Chauvin seemed “appropriate.”
“We can’t leave this moment or look away thinking our work is done,” he said in remarks from the White House. “We have to listen, ‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ Those were George Floyd’s last words. We can’t let those words die with him,” Biden said in an apparent call for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
Freeman criticized the Biden administration for trying to pass this “fake” police reform in the name of George Floyd.