The Blue Wall of Silence Is Crumbling Around Derek Chauvin

For one of the first times in memory, police are testifying against one of their own. But will it lead to an actual conviction?

In this image from video, Lt. Richard Zimmerman of the Minneapolis Police Department testifies in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

The Nation: I can’t offer an assessment of how the Derek Chauvin trial is going. I saw Chauvin murder George Floyd with my own eyes, and no amount of white cop-speak can gaslight me out of that reality. I can’t pretend to get inside the headspace of somebody who has an “open mind” about whether choking a Black person to death on the street is a crime. I can’t really assess the effectiveness of the prosecution’s ongoing case, or grade the defense’s strategy, because I’m not the audience for any of this. For me, catching snippets of this trial has been like catching snippets of an Easter homily: I’m sure this is for somebody, but it ain’t for me.

But I can spot what is different about this trial from all the other ones in which cops are tried for killing Black people. On Friday, Richard Zimmerman, Chauvin’s former supervisor and the current police lieutenant, testified for the prosecution and called Chauvin’s actions “totally unnecessary.” On Monday, the Minneapolis Police Chief, Medaria Arradondo, testified for the prosecution against Chauvin, and said that Chauvin “absolutely” violated police protocols. Over the course of this week, the prosecution will put additional cops on the stand and offer evidence from police training videos, which will all show that Chauvin acted outside standard police procedure during his homicidal detainment of George Floyd.

That’s new. Police officers don’t usually testify against fellow police officers in a murder trial or anything else. I’ve never even heard of a police chief testifying against an officer. That cross-police solidarity is called the “Blue Wall of Silence,” which is kind of like some of the omerta vows we’ve seen popularized by other crime syndicates.  read more..


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  1. There has been a revolution in policing. The ubiquitous nature of camera phones and video. These are some of the biggest tools tearing down the blue wall of silence. These videos are amplified tremendously on social media – massively raising awareness to the extent it cannot be ignored by politicians or law enforcement.

    If things are clear on video, police collectively become a laughingstock if they side with the charged officer if it differs markedly from the video. Better to abandon the bad apple than tarnish the whole force. That in part is what is happening in Minneapolis.

    Without any photos or videos would Chauvin even been charged?

  2. Also worthy of note, is how mayors can hire their own police chiefs, but the unions hold a lot of power over the blue line. Often, mayors will hire chiefs that are faced with a in place culture, that is very difficult to change. Thus we have a very high rate of turnover in police chiefs, and long tenure for union chiefs. The mini deep state pretty much every city faces.

  3. Protests work when enough people get fed up. The cops who worked during them know the overwhelming majority were peaceful and full of all walks of life.
    It is an interesting thing in human life, that the richer a person gets, the more paranoid they become, and the wealth proceeds with power and desire for a private army that uses violence to stave off actual justice.
    How many times has this happened where we did not have the entire video ?

  4. Very strong likelihood that Chauvin will be convicted on all three counts. I have been monitoring the testimony. It’s going very poorly for him. I hope something good comes out of this in the long term.

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