The trial of Chauvin is today the quintessence of a drama that is staged in real time in all the houses of America: it is celebrated in a closed courtroom, with live web coverage all over the world, in the center 12 jurors and two teams of lawyers in action to reconstruct the lives of the two protagonists before their fateful meeting.
Floyd’s death led to months of protests, with deaths, injuries and destruction: it influenced the American elections, with a candidate barricaded inside the White House proclaiming his recipe for the future of “Law and order” and his rival to try to mobilize the vote of African Americans in the name of change.
Months of tensions that today come back to life with the trial: watching a man beg for his life, call his mother, cry for nine interminable minutes knowing how it will end is difficult. America as a whole had never witnessed such a spectacle and it is not yet clear what effects this will have on the collective psyche.
The most brutal images come from the cameras the cops were wearing, installed right after the reports of brutality. And they are central to the reconstruction of the events: to many they may seem like decisive evidence against the accused, but the final decision rests with only twelve jurors and nothing tells us what they will decide when it comes to voting on his guilt or innocence. And in the end, this is what you will have to decide on.
However, it is important to know that in America only half of the cases involving police violence end in a guilty verdict: even thirty years ago, when Rodney King, an African American, was stopped by the police in Los Angeles for violating speed limits. and beaten by the police, there was a video showing the brutality of the agents. But a jury – made up mostly of white men – delivered a verdict of innocence: and the city exploded.
A long time has passed since then, but that does not mean that – if he were to decree the innocence of the accused – the verdict of the Chauvin trial would be accepted more easily, especially in the face of such overwhelming evidence.
Over the next few weeks, we will be following prosecutors as they build a case so solid that – in their intentions – it will only lead to a conviction for a death that so many people believe was a real execution.
The charges against Chauvin are three and include sentences ranging from a minimum of ten years to life imprisonment. Members of various ethnic minorities sit on the jury, so the likelihood of a repeat of what happened in Los Angeles is not high: it is likely that Chauvin will pay for what he did and that there will be some form of justice. But to be sure that this happens we will have to wait: knowing that the stakes are much higher than average.