A Minneapolis jury convicted a former police officer on three homicide charges Tuesday, the climax but not the end of a trial that the held the nation’s rapt attention for 3½ weeks.
Derek Chauvin used his knee to pin a handcuffed George Floyd to the pavement for more than nine minutes, killing him.
A small crowd yelled at Chauvin to stop and videotaped the incident, but other officers on the scene did nothing to stop him. The city’s police chief and veteran officers would testify against Chauvin, saying he used excessive force and that the neck hold was not within department policy.
Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests, including violence and furious calls for reexamination of American attitudes concerning race and law enforcement. Tulsa has part of that whirlwind.
The nation will again be on edge when Chauvin is sentenced and when the other officers face prosecution.
Anxiety that a bad verdict or a light sentence might lead to rioting is a symptom of an untreated and deadly, chronic national disease. The cure isn’t praying that juries get things right — although we should always pray that juries get things right. The cure is resolving the history of prejudice, discrimination and social injustice that individual incidents can spark into conflagrations.
We again point out that the Oklahoma House of Representatives refused to even consider at the committee level reasonable proposals banning police choke holds and creating a statewide database of police uses of force.
Instead, the Legislature has taken up bills to increase penalties on those who block streets during protests, limiting the ability of anyone to protest at the state Capitol and granting immunity to motorists who kill or injure rioters.
This puts Oklahoma on the wrong side of justice, the wrong side of peace.
Faced with overwhelming videotaped evidence and the testimony of undisputed experts, the Chauvin jury came back with three convictions. We’re thankful that events in Minneapolis were greeted with celebrations instead of civil disturbance.
The world remained calm ... until next time.