THE PERILOUS AFTERMATH OF THE CHAUVIN TRIAL
The death of George Floyd almost a year ago has become one of the most important events, if not the most important event, in recent American history. It provoked a wave of protests and riots that resulted in much chaos, instability, and destruction that few other calamities in recent U. S. history can rival.
The trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer who was accused of killing Floyd, has attracted a great deal of attention. There was widespread fear and anxiety in anticipation of the outcome of this trial.
There were good reasons to feel uneasy. BLM, Antifa, and other extremist organizations behind much of the recent turmoil in America promised to unleash unprecedented violence and burn many American cities if Chauvin were acquitted or let off easy. Many radical Democrats eagerly supported a guilty verdict in Chauvin’s case and offered words of encouragement and support for rioters.
Representative Maxine Waters went on the record, stating that unless Derek Chauvin is found “guilty, guilty, guilty,” protests should “get more confrontational” and let everyone know that “we mean business.”
When the verdict finally came in, the wave of support for the jury’s decision was overwhelming. Many high government officials, both current and former, including President Biden, Vice President Harris, President Barak Obama, are on record praising the verdict and calling it a step in the right direction.
Legislators in Congress, including predictably such prominent Democrats as Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, but also some on the Republican side, have expressed their approval. Support has also come from numerous public figures and media personalities.
Derek Johnson, the president of the NAACP, has lavished praise on the jury for making this decision. Don Lemon, of CNN, has had a literal epiphany on the air, thanking Jesus for the guilty verdict. Many others have followed his suit. Tucker Carlson is one of the very few media people who has raised concerns about the decision.
Despite a widespread agreement with the verdict, many have also expressed their disappointment. While the verdict, they say, certainly holds Chauvin accountable for his actions, it does not deliver justice for George Floyd and for many others victims of racism. Both Biden and Obama have pointed out that only the elimination of white supremacy can deliver justice in the case of Floyd’s death.
Bernie Sanders has expressed a very similar view in a tweet he posted after the verdict.
Leaders of extremist groups, such as BLM and Antifa, have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the guilty verdict in the Chauvin trial. They feel that the verdict that holds one cop accountable is not doing nearly enough. Tiffany Burks, a Black organizer of protests in South Florida, in an interview after the trial called for systemic changes, including the defunding of the police. “The guilty on all three charges is not going to do it,” she added.
Karissa Lewis, national field director of the Movement for Black Lives, has said in a statement that the verdict “doesn’t fix an irredeemable, racist system of policing rooted in white supremacy.” A BLM activist from Houston, Nykeisha Bryer, has stressed that she wants this verdict to be the beginning, not the end.
The attitude expressed by rank-and-file comes from the top of the BLM organization. A piece on the Chauvin verdict that has appeared on the BLM site includes the following passage: “An oppressive, racist system cannot and never will deliver justice for our people. It will never keep us safe. Justice would mean a system not rooted in white supremacy. It would be the end of state-sanctioned violence. It would be defunded police. It would be investments in our communities.”
In reading responses to the Chauvin verdict coming from BLM, Antifa, and other extremist organizations, one begins to wonder: What are their goals? If the guilty verdict for Chauvin is not the end of this case, what is the end?
Extremist organizations, such as BLM and Antifa, are playing a disproportionately important role in defining the current situation in America. They have largely shaped both the Chauvin trial and the atmosphere around it. An article in The Nation magazine characteristically entitled “How BLM Is Subtly Shaping the Chauvin Trial” reveals that BLM has influenced the jury selection to the witness stand. It also shows that the judge, in this case, has been “allowing the movement for Black lives to inform the deliberations in a strikingly new way.”
In an all-too-obvious effort to intimidate the jury, both BLM and Antifa have issued multiple threats of widespread riots in the case of a non-guilty verdict for Chauvin. As one BLM activist put it, “’ All hell’ will break loose and buildings will burn ‘if George Floyd’s murderer is not sentenced.’” This statement was far from unique or isolated. BLM leaders have issued similar threats in the past, stating that they will “burn down the system if they don’t get what they want.”
The prominent role that these extremist organizations play in America today merits a close look at their goals. In reading the foundational documents and programmatic statements of BLM, one gets a big surprise: race does not really occupy the central place in them. The founding principles of BLM, for example, include a guaranteed minimum income for all black people, free health care, free schooling, free food, free real estate, gender reassignment surgery, and free abortion.
The organization also demands payment of reparations and a drastic reduction or even complete elimination of jails. Two principal organizers of BLM, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, have proudly acknowledged that they are “trained Marxists,” while Opal Tometi, the third member of the organizing group, has been known for hobnobbing with Nicholas Maduro, the Marxist dictator of Venezuela.
The BLM revolutionary goals include the disruption of “the Western-prescribed nuclear-family-structure requirement.” The organization also wants to end unemployment. The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a partner of BLM, advocates a progressive restructuring of tax code, a radical redistribution of wealth, and an end to unemployment. By contrast, Antifa is much more focused on immediate destruction rather than on long-term programmatic goals.
It is essentially an anarchist organization and its most important general goal is the destruction of the state and its institutions. BLM, Antifa, and their associated organization all advocate the end of policing and open borders.
Much of the influence enjoyed by extremists comes as a result of support rendered to them by progressive liberals and their leaders, including Biden and Harris. When reading statements coming from BLM, Antifa, and other radical organizations, one wonders: Why do people like Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, and others show support for the extremists from BLM and Antifa?
Why do they enable these organizations? They have spent their lives working in hallways and chambers of Congress and in bureaucratic government institutions doing the business of the state. They are the epitome of elite rule and hierarchical order. What do they have in common with these anarchists who are bent on destroying the state?
The answer is nothing. The two sides cannot have anything in common. The only reason why Democratic leaders support, encourage, and abet the extremists is the same that has guided their behavior for decades. This reason is political. They let the genie of extremism out of the bottle for one purpose only: to impose their will on the people and to protect and perpetuate elite rule.
In their eyes, all means justify this end. They are willing to risk the future of this country and to inflict enormous suffering on its people in order to achieve this goal. They stop at nothing. Nothing really matters for progressive liberals but their elite rule. That is the only type of rule that they understand and recognize as legitimate. They know no other.
In the meantime, America is paying a heavy price for the ambitions of progressive liberals, and this price is likely to go even higher. The guilty verdict for Chauvin has emboldened extremists. They feel that they are in control to bring about a radical change in America. They show no intention to stop.
Following the guilty verdict for Chauvin Antifa staged riots in Portland destroying property and attacking police. A war of all against all and destruction it can bring is upon us. We already hear its distant rumblings in the streets of American cities. In New York, BLM protesters attack white NYC diners and demand that they leave the city. The sentiments in the streets are unambiguous.
Journalist Amy Harris has interviewed radical activists in Minneapolis following the verdict. Answering Horowitz’s question whether a civil war is necessary, one black female activist said: “if that’s what it takes, then we have to do it.” Two other women who were part of the interview agreed.
The most chilling comment came from one BLM extremist who suggested that white people needed to feel the pain. “I don’t want to say we need to start killing all white folks, but it’s like…” she said. “But…?” Horowitz questioned. “Maybe they need to feel the pain and the hurt,” the woman added.
Gennady Shkliarevsky is a Professor Emeritus of History at Bard College, New York.