As jury deliberations get underway in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said Monday that the outcome has implications far beyond the courtroom.
“The more important thing is not how Baltimore and Baltimoreans are going to respond or how Black people are going to respond in this country,” Scott said during a meeting with the editorial board of The Baltimore Sun.
“How can someone look me in the eye and say my life matters as much as yours when you’re not going to get a knee in the neck and get killed?” Scott asked.
Chauvin is charged with the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who the then-officer pinned to the pavement with his knee in May. Floyd’s death was captured in a video that led to outrage across the nation as viewers watched Chauvin atop Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes as bystanders and Floyd pleaded for the white officer to get off him.
Scott addressed the case directly Monday in the final minutes of his meeting with The Sun. “He was murdered,” Scott said plainly of Floyd.
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“Chauvin should be found guilty. Let’s just start there. We are talking about a murder of a man live on the internet that the entire world saw,” Scott said.
“Anything other than a guilty verdict really, forget Baltimore, really puts this country in a position where it’s going to have to explain how in the hell they expect Black people to believe that they have a fair shot when we all saw what we saw,” Scott said.
The mayor said he expects Baltimore will respond, but “in the way that it responded last year during George Floyd,” he said. Protests, many violent, rocked cities across the country following Floyd’s death, but Baltimore, which made national headlines for violent protests following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray from injuries while in police custody, avoided similar unrest last year.
Scott noted that a peaceful protest was held Friday in the city by Good Kids Mad City over another killing at police hands.
“How’s everyone else going to respond?” Scott asked. “What are you going to say? If you’re President Biden, what are you going to say to Black people in America if he’s not found guilty?”
“It’s not just him that’s on trial,” Scott added. “You’re talking about American justice in really essentially America on trial for how it treats the descendants of the very people that built the country in the first place.”
The jury in the Chauvin trial was sent to deliberate Monday afternoon after a day of closing arguments in the case. The high-profile trial began in late March.