She Wouldn’t Even Say George Floyd’s Name
by HERBERT DYER, JR. Medium, 26 June 2021
Killer-cop Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 270 months, or twenty-two and one-half years, in prison for the murder of George Floyd. However, all experts agree that with “good behavior,” he will likely spend no more than fifteen years behind bars.
Today’s (June 25) sentencing hearing opened with “victim impact statements” from both the murdered victim’s and the convicted murderer’s families.
In the case of George Floyd’s family, two of his brothers and one nephew gave hard-to-watch, tearful and heart-wrenching statements about the murder of their loved one. People, particularly black people, across the country, across the world, cried right along with these three grown black men as they each struggled mightily to not only describe but to understand their constant pain, their sleepless nights, as they looked back upon the precious but now forever lost moments and hours and years they spent with George. Those moments, hours and years are now only accessible as memories or photos or endlessly looping videos of the man they not only loved but revered and respected.
Black people cried right along with these men as well because to a greater or lesser degree, what Derek Chauvin did to their brother, to their nephew, to their father, to their cousin…well…it’s safe to say that just about every single black family in this nation-state has had to also deal with some level of white fear, white terror, white rage, white racism, white supremacy, white privilege. That is, for black people everywhere George Floyd’s family’s pain and sorrow and grief and bereavement were oh so familiar, oh so real, oh so close and, in many cases, all too recent.
These men appeared in person and stood before the judge and the world as they gave their statements.
And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
But it was the videotaped “statement” of George Floyd’s seven-year-old daughter Gianna who opened the hearing and set the stage for all that followed.
This is the stop-traffic-cute little black girl, who earlier in this whole process, captured the hearts and souls of everyone, even an American president, when she declared that her father had “changed the world.”
This is the child who today told us all how sorely she missed playing with her father; how she missed him tucking her in at bedtime; how he helped her brush her teeth; how much she missed him; and yes, how much she loved him.
She herself also wanted to know “how he got hurt.” And, perhaps her most poignant assertion was that she refused to believe that her father was really gone because his “spirit” was with her always.
Here’s the video of George Floyd’s family’s statements, beginning with Gianna:
Derek Chauvin’s Mother is the Epitome of White Privilege
And then there was Derek Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, who, like her killer-cop son, offered and displayed perhaps the most callous “victim impact statement” I’ve ever seen, heard or read. (And I am a retired paralegal with thirty-five years experience in both the criminal and civil courts of the City of Chicago).
This woman spoke for almost ten….count ’em ten…minutes — about the same amount of time that her killer-cop son took to asphyxiate and thus murder George Floyd by pressing his knee into his neck. She spoke of her killer-cop son’s “goodness” and righteousness; of how she and his father would likely “not be here” when he finally gets out of prison. She spoke of how she would not be able to hug and interact with him in the normal ways mothers and sons do because he would be locked up.
She also said that the two proudest and happiest moments in her life were 1) giving birth to Chauvin; and 2) pinning his first police badge on his chest.
Listening to and watching her, I began to wonder: Well, who’s the real victim here? Her? Her husband…or Derek Chauvin himself?
However, no one denies the truth of her assertion that a mother’s love is the most powerful force on earth. In that sense, we can easily understand, appreciate and expect her pleas for leniency…for mercy. Just about every and any mother would do the same thing. We all have (or had) a mother. (Indeed, I have described the sudden and tragic loss of my own mother here: “Death of a Mother”).
But it is the fact that throughout her, again, callous oration, not once did this woman acknowledge that George Floyd’s family was even in the room. Not once did she offer condolences or regrets or, God forbid, an apology for the heinous actions of her son.
She did none of these things because, to her, neither George Floyd nor his black family was of the slightest importance. The closest she came to addressing the Floyd family was to declare first to the judge, then to the world, and then indirectly to the Floyd family, that her son was “not a racist.”
To have done so… to admit and acknowledge her son’s obvious racism would have raised the sticky question as to where and when and how he got his racist proclivities, his racist attitude and his racist approach to “life.” And…well…then we are no longer talking just about Derek, but about her and her husband.
Perhaps the most disgusting thing she said is this:
Derek has played over and over in his head the events of that day. I’ve seen the toll it has taken on him. I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me.
The “toll it has taken on him.” On him?!
He has played his crime, his casual, his callous murder of an unarmed, prostrate, shackled, and innocent black man “over and over in his head”?!
And coming from her, “When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me” — sounds more like an unconscious admission of guilt than a plea for sympathy, for empathy.
This woman’s putative “‘victim’ impact statement” is an exquisitely perfect exemplar of white privilege — on steroids. To stand before the world and blithely ignore the biggest, blackest “elephant in the room” tells us all we need to know about her — and her son. We see now why throughout this whole “process” she had chosen to remain silent.
She couldn’t — wouldn’t — even bring herself to say George Floyd’s name.