The Case Before Us, Part 8: Follow the Money

There is an issue being wholly ignored in the jury selection process in the case of State of Minnesota v. Derek Chauvin the contours of which are already known to those who have opened their eyes wide to policing issues in the United States.

For as we watch the jury selection process in the Minneapolis-based trial of Defendant Chauvin, we see yet another instance of the systemic bias that favors the status quo simply because of ignorance.

It is the same ignorance that allows those who oppose efforts to restructure police to sound so very reasonable while making those who call for change sound like Jacobins or anarchists.

Even the jury questionnaires and the voir dire (questioning) of the prospective jurors have imbedded within them this hidden bias in favor of the police status quo.

The bias exists because the average American simply has no idea about the potential issue of police overtime and off-duty earnings and its effect upon policing that has been closely examined in other cities.

Yet, instead of including a question or two about police officer overtime or the drive for off-duty employment that some organizations like the ACLU of Seattle have investigated, the jury questions involve the same tropes about “defunding police,” and the public paranoia about forfeiting “law and order.”

No mention is made of the high probability that in some cities, like Boston, it is the appetite for overtime work that may have created the atmosphere of police corruption that has plagued the Nation for decades, but is now coming into plain sight.

Because the larger media narrative and public discourse have yet to absorb and comprehend the issues investigated in Seattle and Boston — such issues like how police officers, such as those in Chicago, became entangled in a money chase leading to fatigued officers — there will inevitably be a single-sided monologue.

That monologue will be the same one we see here in the Chauvin trial — are you for or against defunding the police?

The real question should be: Are you for police who are paid to serve the public instead of engaging in the unceasing pursuit of off-duty and overtime work that may put them and the public in greater danger.

Are you for police who are paid adequately and trained to be professionals who protect civil rights and guard communities — all communities — including the poor and people who do not look like they do.

But, that discussion may have to wait until another day and after another avoidable tragedy.

-Albert Turner Goins

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