On March 30, CNN political commentator Van Jones told host Chris Cuomo that America is in a “dangerous position as a country” if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is not convicted in the trial for George Floyd’s death. “Everybody I’m talking to is frustrated, re-triggered, re-traumatized. Seeing that video, seeing the complete contempt for life.

“If you can do this in broad daylight and not go to jail, it will be perceived as open season, telling police officers from coast to coast you can literally get away with murder in broad daylight. So, this was, you can ask any of the people who have been marching out here in the middle of a pandemic…This is the system on trial for a generation.

“And, you know, listen, you can ask any of the people who have been marching out here in the middle of a pandemic, this is going to be there will be half a billion people watching when the verdict comes out…You’re putting us in a very dangerous situation when you do that because what you’re now saying is it doesn’t matter if you follow the rules.

“We are still going to come and get you. Once you have 40 million people in the country who, no matter what we do, we break the law, we get in trouble. We follow the law. We get in trouble. No matter what we do, you are not going to accept us, then what do we have here? You’ve got a potential time bomb on both sides.”

On the same day Democracy for America (DFA) sent me a fund-raising letter requesting donations to support Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general. The DFA supports Ellison because “he fights against the powerful forces of hate, injustice, moneyed special interests, and corporate welfare.” This is why, I was told, the outcome of this trial will define the limits of police brutality, the protection of Black lives, and racial justice.

Van Jones, the DFA crowd and a horde of other individuals and organizations are effectively demanding a verdict before an actual trial. The formalities of a trial are underway as this article is being written. And so, ironically, are the typical procedures of a lynching. It would be kind of nice if some prominent political and judicial figures stepped up with  reminders about due process, innocent until proven guilty, the rule of law and all those cherished features of American justice. I’m not hearing this. Are my readers?

Remember, a lynch mob acts on the conviction that the guilt is known and legalistic twaddle impedes justice. The evidenced of guilt is a video showing officer Chauvin pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes even as the poor man cries out that he can’t breath and yells for his mother.

The prosecution has presented eye witnesses who have given emotional testimony of their own distress at witnessing the dying man’s agonies. There are plenty of people who have experienced difficulty in breathing for one reason or another so empathy is easy. George Floyd’s extensive record of criminal behavior does not permit law officers to administer punishment on the street.

Derek Chauvin is getting a jury trial in accordance with our traditions, but that jury cannot possibly deliver a verdict of innocence. Van Jones and others like him have already demanded a guilty verdict, both as a matter of plain justice and as a pragmatic necessity, i.e., a guilty verdict is the only way to avoid riots, arson, vandalism, and looting.

That threat has been vividly demonstrated in Minneapolis. Jurors from Minneapolis know all about that sort of thing. They will have noticed that the Hennepin County court house has been surrounded by concrete barriers, metal fencing, and razor wire. They have probably heard that the jail where the accused is housed has been fortified.

Their homes and places of business have no such protection; something for them to think about. If that jury is not terrorized, it’s a panel of heroes, or reckless dimwits. There have been American and Russian movies about single dissenters on juries who succeeded in persuading their fellows to think again, and again until all 12 came around to a unanimous “not guilty” verdict.

But these fictions did not compel them to face an infuriated mob of millions. Any man or woman inclined to become the lone hold-out who forces a hung jury cannot hope to take refuge in anonymity. The Minnesota state attorney is a committed far-far leftist as the far-far left DFA celebrates. If he doesn’t leak the hold-out’s name there will be more than one leaker among his staff of 130 lawyers.

In addition to the dangers of dissent the jurors will be aware that the Congress has passed a law named in honor of George Floyd. And they must have heard that the city of Minneapolis has agreed to a $27,000,000 payment to Floyd’s family.

There have been arguments made by conservatives in defense of Chauvin but only one concerns this column. The medical finding that Floyd did not die from strangulation, but from the effects of fentanyl exacerbated by his exertions resisting the police. This might support a manslaughter verdict. To me that seems unlikely. And it would be all that the lunch mob needs to reach for matches and missiles. That is only speculation. This is fact: nobody of stature has taken the trouble to uphold the American legal tradition against the universal lynching tradition.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fact check: The 20-page Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s report indicates that Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, although the drugs are not listed as the cause. Nor was strangulation. The report states: “CARDIOPULMONARY ARREST COMPLICATING LAW ENFORCEMENT SUBDUAL, RESTRAINT, AND NECK COMPRESSION.” It is available online.

John Frary of Farmington, the GOP candidate for U.S. in 2008 is a retired history professor, an emeritus Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United, a Maine Citizens Coalition Coalition Board member and publisher of FraryHomeCompanion.com

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