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Chauvin was convicted but we still need to transform policing: former NAACP president

Kristin Myers
·3 min read
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Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, charged with killing George Floyd was convicted on all three charges brought against him by the prosecution: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Combined, Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison.

But former NAACP President Ben Jealous told Yahoo Finance Live prior to the ruling there are “still other levers that can be pulled in our justice system" and there is more work to be done after Chauvin’s legal journey ends. 

"Federal charges (civil and criminal) should be a focus here as well,” said Jealous. “We need to be actively involved in making sure that all of our own communities transform public safety, really go much further than we have ever gone.”

When it comes to policing, Jealous explained there are “two things every single jurisdiction should be focused on. One is that we have to change how officers are recruited. We also have to change how we remove officers. If you imagine that Mr. Chauvin was a doctor, there would be no question if there were 8 minutes and 46 seconds of a tape of him torturing a patient the way he killed Mr. Floyd, he would lose his medical license. Everyone would expect it. The license to serve as a police officer is more difficult to lose than a medical license. That’s a problem.”

Chauvin received nearly 20 complaints, several of which resulted in discipline, during his service as a police officer.

“The expectation when you have a police officer fired is when he or she will pop up as an officer somewhere else,” Jealous said. "We have to stop that."

The problem with “authoritarian policing” is a “threat” to all Americans, said Jealous. “It is important to keep in mind, as Black people, we are canaries in the coal mine.” 

While not much has changed between police and communities of color since Rodney King was savagely beaten by four police officers, Jealous explained, cell phone videos have forced America to recognize “what Black America for 400 years has not been allowed to forget: which is that we can be treated as disposable, without consequence.”

“Racism is what makes we as Black people much more susceptible to dying in this way,” said Jealous, referring to the murder of Floyd. “You look at the officers most likely to pull the trigger, what they may or may not have in common is racism, implicit bias. What they all seem to have in common is high levels of authoritarianism.”

Demonstrators display placards while marching during a protest, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in the Nubian Square neighborhood, of Boston, a day after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd. Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. The demonstrators called for police reforms and racial equality. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Demonstrators display placards while marching during a protest, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in the Nubian Square neighborhood, of Boston, a day after a guilty verdict was announced at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the 2020 death of George Floyd. Chauvin has been convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd. The demonstrators called for police reforms and racial equality. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

In a speech after the Chauvin verdict was read, President Biden said that the country needs “Congress to act.”

“George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name,” Biden said, adding that Vice President Harris helped write “legislation to tackle systemic misconduct in police departments, to restore trust between law enforcement and the people they’re entrusted to serve and protect. But it shouldn’t take a whole year to get this done.”

Jealous said there has been a “long history” that Black Americans are going up against in changing.

“For 150 years we’ve basically been comfortable as a country with maintaining more of the past than we should. So it is always the right time to do the right thing, and it is always the right time to be outraged about injustice," he said.

Kristin Myers is a reporter and anchor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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