• February 26, 2024

After Chauvin Verdict, Black Police Officers Consider What Has Changed : NPR

Following the murder conviction of Derek Chauvin, black cops in America ponder what has and has not changed in the year since George Floyd’s death. Siede Preis / Getty Images Hide caption

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Following the murder conviction of Derek Chauvin, black cops in America ponder what has and has not changed in the year since George Floyd’s death.

Sits Price / Getty Images

After this Derek Chauvin’s murder convictionBlack cops in America ponder what has and has not changed in the year since George Floyd’s death.

“There have been very few changes, and I think that shows in what we continue to see,” said Cheryl Dorsey, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer. “I mean, even while all of this was going on with the Derek Chauvin murder trial, the officers still seem unable to control themselves and pause if they choose to use lethal force.”

Dorsey is one of three past and present officers who spoke to NPR’s Ari Shapiro – First, in June 2020, after Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis and again this week.

Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd

Isaiah McKinnon joined the Detroit Police Department in 1965. He eventually became the chief of police and served for five years before retiring from the police force in 1998. In California, Dorsey joined the LAPD in 1980 and served for 20 years before retiring. In Ohio, Vincent Montague began his law enforcement journey in 2008. He has been an officer and president of the Black Shield Police Association, which supports officials in the greater Cleveland area, for 13 years.

In their first conversation with NPR, the three generations of officials spoke about the complexities of being black in law enforcement and whether they believed changes could be made in the US after global protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

At the time, McKinnon said he was optimistic.

“We have young, white people involved in this,” McKinnon said. “If these were just black people protesting, they’d say the hell with them.”

Minneapolis trial postponed over three former cops in George Floyd's murder

Dorsey was a little less optimistic, saying she felt that those in positions of power were not obliged to make lasting changes.

“I think these police chiefs are insincere,” said Dorsey. “You know, they say what they need right now to calm people down.”

Montague said he was hopeful because black officers in particular had started speaking out.

“In the past, when a black woman shows up, she is an angry black woman. A black man steps forward; he’s just angry,” Montague said. “But now black officers have more voices and aren’t as afraid to say what needs to be said.”

Following the murder conviction of Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, Shapiro sat down with the three officers again to hear their thoughts on the verdict and to see what has and has not changed since last year.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Ari Shapiro: Do ​​you start by thinking about what we just heard – your voices from almost a year ago? How did what we saw last year compare to what you expected?

Cheryl Dorsey: I’m exactly where I thought we were. You know, there has been very little change and I think that shows in what we keep seeing. I mean, even while all of this was going on with the Derek Chauvin murder trial, the officers still seem unable to control themselves and take a break when, in my opinion, they choose to use lethal violence as a Use the first resource instead of the very last thing you should use after all other tools and options have been exhausted.

Isaiah McKinnon: I think I am eternally optimistic to a certain extent. But I do agree with Cheryl to some extent. But let’s go back to the Chauvin trial. For the first time in my long history, I literally saw a police station – that is, the chief and there is a commander – there were other people who stood up and literally said that the officer and officers were wrong. I’ve never seen that before. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of officers tried and released. It has never happened before.

Interesting. So we have a kind of glass half full and the glass half empty. Vincent, when you look at this, what do you see?

Vincent Montague: I was optimistic last time. And the culture of the police – officers don’t want that culture to change. And the officials I deal with – they are afraid of a cultural change and don’t want to be held accountable. And you can see them say that at work. Gosh, people at work are getting fired now. Caucasian men are fired for things they would not have been fired for in the past.

You mean like racist words and actions – things like that?

Montague: Yes. I’m glad we now have cameras and social media to put this stuff out. And it reminds me of my grandfather telling me about the civil rights movement and when the world saw how racist actions and blacks were treated in America and it forced changes to be made. And I think it’s happening now, but it’s not happening the way it should because, as the sergeant said, the officers are still doing these actions.

In the Chauvin case, the judge finds aggravating factors that pave the way for a longer prison term

I’m curious. Cheryl, when you hear about this – I mean, officers who do racist things get fired, to convicting violent officers of murder in Derek Chauvin’s case – the incidents you describe are still happening. How do you weigh these things – right? That there was some level of accountability but didn’t fix the system.

Dorsey: There is some level of accountability, but there is still so much to be done. And let me come back to what the boss had to say – you know, for the first time in many of our stories we’ve seen cops testify against someone else. Much has been said about the blue wall finally breaking.

But listen. So that we understand each other. This is a police chief. I don’t give Chief Arradondo brownie points for listening. He’s still in damage control mode. He knew exactly who Derek Chauvin was. Derek Chauvin had 18 personnel complaints. [Arradondo] had been the chief of police for two years. He says yes I know who Derek Chauvin is. Even so, they allowed him to remain on patrol and again to insult. And if Mr. Floyd didn’t die, we’d see him well on the way to Complaint 25, 27. I don’t know how many more he could have accumulated.

I’m curious. When such incidents happen, Vincent, how is the conversation among the officers? And has that changed since the protests against Black Lives Matter last summer?

Montague: Well, the conversation among African American officers regarding the chauvin process – we are hopeful. And because we’re in that neighborhood, Fox News is on when you walk into an office. And so these officers repeat what they say. So you do not agree with the judgment. They don’t think he’ll get a lot of time.

They say the white or black officers don’t think he …

Montague: No, the white officers. You think so. So it’s difficult to get into a work environment when you get hurt in the church and go into a work environment where people say these things.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised after talking to Cheryl and Isaiah, but I’m surprised to hear the officials you work with who are white say in 2021 that Derek Chauvin shouldn’t have been convicted.

McKinnon: Well, you see, it is – the attitudes of these officers will not change. I mean here we are. I joined in ’65. Cheryl joined about twenty years later. Vincent joined twenty years later. We are talking about the same problems, the same types of individuals. The kind of people we put into this area of ​​law enforcement – the most important thing is to have a full assessment of the assessment. Otherwise it continues.

So if changes from the outside don’t seem feasible and Vincent says changes from within don’t take place, where does that leave this country?

Dorsey: Well, let me say this because I don’t want to give the impression that nothing is possible, do I? I think it won’t be easy, let’s say together, because the problem is systemic in nature. And for the most part, as I often say, it’s top-down. But there are things we can do. And of course, when the community gets involved and engaged, as we see with protests and everything else that happens, I think that is going to get the attention. Of course, every police chief serves a mayor who is an elected official. And elected officials understand one thing, and that is voices. And so there are things that can be done. But the community has to get involved, get involved and demand it.


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