A Sliver of Hope

Sometimes as human beings we have difficulty holding, or allowing others to hold, conflicting thoughts, ideas, or emotions about a particular event. The conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is one such example.[1] I can certainly understand and share in the excitement of those who felt a sense of justice for George Floyd and his family. Or that the system actually held a now former police officer accountable for his murderous actions.[2] It is hard to explain how traumatic it is and has been to the affected communities to see people escape responsibility for these extrajudicial killings.[3] I can understand why some in the African-American community expressed elation on Tuesday. A win for the prosecution in this case is not just a win for them or the people of the state of Minnesota. It is not even just a win for the family of the deceased. It is a victory for the entire African-American community in this country and even the African diaspora around the world. Last year George Floyd’s name became a rallying cry both in this country and abroad, a catalyst that reenergized a movement for more equal treatment of people of color by law enforcement. I think anyone could understand why people would be excited to see that this cause that they believed in ended with what they felt was the proper outcome.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11199

i don’t think these cases should be linked…in the bryant case, the officer had a split second decision to make on whether to stop a likely murder, or let it happen…he did his high stress job by stopping a likely murder in the only way it could have been stopped…walking up to bryant, and trying to reason with her, wouldn’t have cut it…

i think there is an issue with police overreach in black communities…but reflexively blaming police whenever a black person is killed by police, and couching it in racist terms, doesn’t resolve anything…i’ve seen several retired black policemen and women exonerate and defend the officer who killed bryant…other than paid defence witnesses, i haven’t seen anyone defend chauvin…

the real question in the bryant case should be why was bryant wielding a knife at someone pinned against a car…what was the cause of the deadly altercation that was obviously unfolding before the police arrived…had the police not arrived, do we know that more than one person wouldn’t have been killed…the answer to this question is no…


I have this problem with your analysis, Jason: As Jeremy has noted, you cannot see these cases outside of race.

Bryant was wielding a knife against another person, about to stab them, and the officer shoots. Is that racist?

Toledo is out at 3 AM shooting. he tosses the gun, but it is dark. And the officer shoots, and is really sorry, but can’t bring him back. Is that racist, or just tragedy?

And you interrupt these as racist. When you do that, you loose credibility. You have said that Brown who was shot in Ferguson was another example of racism. But he was investigated by a grand jury and the Obama justice department and exonerated. The killing was justified self defense.

Yet, Jason, you keep bringing such cases up as examples of racism, and by doing so excite racial animosity, when there is no justification.

How does bringing up Brown and these others help you at all? It makes you look silly, and blind to reality. Is every black killed by police a racist killing? Your fellow blacks do plenty of criminal things, and when you white wash the lot, it shows your own bias.

I think Chauvin was guilty, and was tired fairly. But for Minneapolis to be boarded up and the courthouse surrounded by barbed wire and barriers does not speak will fo your fellow blacks such that lives and property need protection if they do not get their way.

Mob rule is not just rule.


The thirteen-year old Adam Toledo would be alive today if:

  1. he had been sleeping in his bed rather than out on the streets at 2:30 in the morning;
  2. he had not consorted with a gangster eight years older than he;
  3. he had not participated in a crime, i.e., shooting at moving cars, during that early morning;
  4. he had not taken possession of a gun;
  5. he had not fled the police;
  6. he had not, unintentionally to be sure, put a police officer in a kill-or-be-killed risk situation.

This is a very easy case. The shooting was clearly justified. Just look at the video evidence.

And the shooting of the knife-wielding girl before she could succeed in her attempt to stab to death another human being was also clearly justified.


Your assessment of what Adam Toledo should have done is wrong and quite insensitive. You have easily glosed over some of the most important facts in that case. Adam Toledo was a special needs kid, his ability of making the right decision was quite limited. Also, in his 6 year career as a police officer, Stillman has had 4 use of force cases.

Adam Toledo was failed by the system and exploited by the gangster. It’s true that Stillman did not know that Adam Toledo was a special needs kid and may have also not know how young he was, however how he handled the situation affected the outcome. It’s estimated that around half of the people killed by the police in US are physically or/and mentally disabled. The issue will be whether or not Stillman followed the laid down police rules and procedures.

I do not live in US, but from an outside perspective it seems that taking a life is quite easy for US police officers and it has for a long time not been treated with the seriousness it deserves. A good example of this is the Danial Shaver case, who was shot dead because he pulled up his pants, the police who shot him is free and “earning” from it. He retired on medical grounds for PTSD from the shooting and is getting 2500USD per month.

In my country, unless one is suspected of committing a serious crime eg. violent robbery or hijacking, no police officer will approach your car with his/her gun drawn.

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it really is shocking how free american police seem to feel about the use of their guns…but this may be related to the staggering number of guns in the general population…they may believe they need to shoot, or be shot…


I repeat a quote from MARK KEITH ROBINSON:

The man who killed him was
So tell me again, how is this a racist nation ??

But for the videos would there have been any prosecution? I assume you watched the trial and you do know that he obsficated and lied on his incident report. Video showed that he lied. Will see what happens to his fellow officers who “helped”.

I am not sure that special needs limits the moral ability of a person. We have a Down’s at are church who seems to have a moral sense.

“Failed by the system”. Really hard to evaluate such a statement. Too nebulous.

Was it systems failure, or a family or personal failure. This kid is running around at 3 AM with a gun. Brantley asked a bunch of questions about personal responsibility, and you bring up the “system”. Blaming the “system” is not that helpful, leads to resentment rather than taking ones self in tow, and shifts blame on a vague entity that does not really help.

Where was the mother? The father? the grandmother? When the school is in an underprivileged area, those that have mothers that will hold a kid responsible have a much better outcome. I have often heard of “failed systems” but little of successful ones unless there is an individual taking responsibility.

The culture has accepted the absence of fathers in their children’s lives. That is a real “systems” failure.

?? So, how do you prevent that? Will defunding the police help? What is your answer to gangs, a real phenomena that the “system” does not like, but that it seems unable to control. If a young person is not willing to stand up for himself and refuse to get involved, a personal choice, gang involvement will happen.

Here is a kid shooting at cars and you blame the police as trigger happy? Isn’t that a bit off base?

BTW, Steve, I looked at the report you mentioned. They annualized 8 cases. That is all. I would have expected more of an in-depth assessment.

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i was thinking of the daunte wright incident, where a gun happy policewoman decided she needed to shoot daunte (she says with a taser) because he had allegedly hung air freshener from his rear view mirror…

i believe this is as mindless as feeling a need to kneel on someone’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, well after he had died…

Adam Toledo did not shoot the car, the gangster pulled the trigger, he then gave Adam Toledo the gun and escaped from the scene.

In some cases, mental illness impairs the ability of a person to understand the consequences and effects of his/her actions. That’s why in some cases eg. murder, the suspect has to undergo mental evaluation so that they can determine if they can be held responsible for their actions and be prosecuted.

It’s not only about moral responsibility, some forms of mental illness impair the ability of a person to respond to commands. Imagine a person with down syndrome responding to police officer issuing loud verbal commands, he/she may not understand certain commands, may respond slowly, may run way, and is at a higher risk of being shot if the police officer does not realize that he/she is mentally impaired. Look at the Tony Timpa case, its similar to the George Floyd case; he was restrained for 14 minutes, died from asphixiation, but the police officers were not prosecuted.

By the “system”, I am reffering to the US government institutions, that have been unable to deal with the issue of the inability of US police officers in managing/responding to mentally impaired suspects.

Can we be careful not to confuse mental illness with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) ? People with IDD are not usually mentally ill and people with mental illness may not have any IDD issues. The term special needs usually refers to people with IDD, but can refer to a wide variety of concerns, including physical disabilities.


Prescisely. The author sullied this piece by blindly calling out the next “racist” cop, something that diminishes the verdict in the case at hand and emboldens the voices calling it an unfair trial.

The unfortunate reality that Americans must come to terms with is that even if it was somehow possible to remove all the consciously and subconsciously racist police officers, these incidents will still occur due to issues just as unlikely to be addressed ie massively armed citizenry, urban blight and high crime areas, disfunctional family life, poorly selected and trained police officers, poorly paid police officers, a complete misunderstanding of the literal seconds involved in decision making by police officers, a test most of us would fail.

it may be significant to note that the phrase, black on black crime, while politically controversial, does seem to describe a real issue in many american cities…and if this is true, and police are habitually called to deal with deadly violence in black areas, it’s not so far-fetched to think that perhaps police become conditioned to think of black areas as being crime-ridden, so much so that when they see a black person, they think they see a criminal…

Agree and in terms of training, what is the appropriate level of fear that enables an officer to make correct decisions. You wouldn’t want them scared senseless nor cavalier as regards their mental state.

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exactly…police need to maintain their sense of control over violence and lawlessness, or all of society stands to unravel…

but what i think needs to be looked into more is why we don’t see more black families gather together in solidarity when a black family member is shot to death by another black person…where’s the media, where are the ben crumps and al sharptons of the world when a white policeman isn’t involved…

the cynical side of me says they’re not there, and black families - sometimes extended to distant relatives - aren’t gathering, because black on black crime doesn’t represent any opportunity for lucrative lawsuits…the floyd civil lawsuit settled for $27 million…this is a lot more money than any of floyd’s family were likely seeing, some of whom weren’t really a part of his life, but were suddenly a big part of his death…

but the other thing for society to consider is why the apparent phenomenon of black on black crime exists in the first place…is it a symptom of systemic racism, in which people are feeling hopeless and valueless…would some attempt at reparations for the discrimination blacks have faced help…the city of evanstan, illinois is looking to answer this question:

The main reason people worldwide protested over the killing of George Floyd, wasn’t because he was killed by a white police officer. People protested worldwide because of the callous disregard for human life displayed by the police officers. The world watched a man die while pleading for his life, killed by a police officer who was impervious to the even the common sense of a 9 year old girl.

The fact that George Floyd was killed after Trump’s presidency, may have influenced how the world responded to the crime. American racism was also put on full display during the Trump era.

i disagree…what i saw in the worldwide protests from last last year was reaction to the unequal treatment of blacks in society…the floyd murder, coming when it did, was the nerve centre of those protests…

had chauvin been black, and floyd white, no-one would have paid any attention to it…

i agree with you here…while racism probably remained mostly covert during trump’s presidency, it certainly gained permission and standing that it didn’t have before…

but the BLM protests were more than just america…it was a worldwide phenomenon…the floyd murder was taken up as a grievance the world over…

I agree, the BLM movement affected how people responded to George Floyd’s death.

However, I disagree with your second statement, had Chauvin been black and Floyd white, people would have protested. Look at the Justine Diamond case, a white woman killed by a black police officer.

The facts and events in each of these cases vary a lot, this affects how people respond to each case. For example in the Tony Timpa case who died from positional asphixia just like George Floyd, no video was shared online by the public and the police video footage was released 3 years after the event, the family had to take the city of Dallas to court for the video to be released. The medical examiner stated that the main cause of death was cardiac arrest due to cocaine and police restraint, unlike in George Floyd case where the drugs were not listed as the main cause of death (they were contributing factors). The charges against the police officers were dropped based on the medical examiners report.

The Tony Timpa case seems to be case of the police and authorities protecting their own.

Tony Timpa’s case/name is usually mentioned in protests (including BLM protests), against police brutality. I just hope that one day the case will be reopened and the family will get the justice they deserve.

In Mexico a salvadorian woman died just like George Floyd, as a result of police restraint with a knee on her neck. They broke her neck. She was not black and was not a Mexican people protested in Mexico. The protests were mainly due to the callous nature of her killing, which reminded them of George Floyd’s death.

what i meant was that had chauvin been black, and floyd white, while we would have seen reaction, it wouldn’t have been the world-wide reaction that the floyd murder became…this is because black discrimination, world-wide, has been simmering for many yrs, just waiting for a vehicle, like the floyd murder, to express itself…i don’t think anyone argues that whites have faced systemic discrimination for generations…for this reason, the social dynamics in the case of a white victim at the hands of black police aren’t the same…

there’s no question that the video(s) of the floyd murder made all the difference…without those videos, we may not have had a chauvin conviction…we certainly wouldn’t have seen the worldwide protests we saw last year…

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