The second week of the Derek Chauvin trial picked up where it ended with the Minneapolis Police Department distancing itself from the former officer. Minneapolis police higher-ups, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, have taken the stand to declare that neither Chauvin’s behavior nor the techniques used to restrain George Floyd were consistent with MPD policy.
“Once there was no longer any resistance,” said Chief Arradondo, “and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back—that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”
Arradondo also noted that Minneapolis police are guided by the idea of the “sanctity of life” and that the MPD aims to treat citizens with dignity while “being their guardians.”
However, many people in Minneapolis do not identify with or recognize the kind and gentle police department that was described in court and for the Court TV audience by Arradondo on Monday.
“Chief Rondo was engaging in nothing but a propaganda stunt,” said Minneapolis writer Marjaan Sirdar. “This will allow people outside of Minneapolis to see him as the model police chief.
“He was going to say that U.S. law enforcement is the best in the world, and they are the best when it comes to oppression. They serve as a model for the world for repression and brutality,” Sirdar said.
“The MPD is trying to distance themselves from Chauvin and calling him a bad officer, and there is some truth to it,” said local activist and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong of the Racial Justice Network.
“We haven’t seen a knee on somebody’s neck that killed them, but there have been knees on necks before. And MPD has killed quite a few people over the years even if we just looked from 2013 to 2020. People have been killed by the Minneapolis Police Department under very questionable circumstances, where they didn’t de-escalate. But a lot of times they would shoot first and ask questions later,” said Levy Armstrong.
“There was no real difference between that time period and what George Floyd experienced. They [police] went from zero to a hundred over a counterfeit bill,” continued Levy Armstrong. “They were not preserving the sanctity of life but taking lives. And they have been able to get away with it. City officials have not done a damn thing about it.”
Some in the mainstream press have said of the trial that the thin blue line has been crossed in such testimony. However, it is important to point out that the officers testifying are not street officers but rather police management.
According to records and information collected by Michelle Gross and Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), Chauvin had 26 complaints lodged against him during his time as a Minneapolis cop.
“Basically the trial has demonstrated their [police administration’s] willingness to throw Chauvin under the bus. But they not only kept him on the job, they promoted him,” said Gross. “He [Chauvin] is not an aberration, and that culture and conduct has been tolerated for decades. A trainer should be someone who exemplifies the conduct you want. So if they made him a trainer, he exemplifies the conduct they wanted.”
Andy Browne, an active participant in maintaining the tribute to George Floyd known as George Floyd Square, wrote on Facebook, “MPD has tolerated police conduct such as Chauvin’s for years. [The City of Minneapolis] has been paying out case after case of misconduct and abuse of power, all at the expense of Minneapolis taxpayers. This isn’t a one bad apple; this is a rotten tree that produces rotten fruit.”
Mel Reeves was the community editor at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder until he passed away on January 6, 2022. He had a long and storied history working at the MSR.
Find more about Reeve’s life and legacy here: spokesman-recorder.com/category/remembering-mel-reeves.