By Reza Moshfegh 

Derek Chauvin trial an important test for America: Hamline University professor 

March 9, 2021 - 15:43

TEHRAN - A professor from Hamline University says that the trial of Derek Chauvin is a big test for America to hold police responsible. 

"The Derek Chauvin trial that begins in Minnesota is an important test of the ability to hold police responsible for the use of force against persons of color," David Schultz tells the Tehran Times. 

According to NPR, an appeals court has ordered a Minnesota judge to consider charging Derek Chauvin, former Minneapolis police officer, with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd last May.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill had dismissed that charge in October, siding with Chauvin's defense team who argued the officer didn't put anyone other than the victim at risk. But a three-judge panel of the Minnesota Court of Appeals said Cahill failed to follow precedent.

Discrimination against people of color in America is not a novel problem. Its roots date back to slavery.

"America has faced significant structural racism since the founding of the nation. It was a country born with slavery, specifically slaves from Africa," Schultz remarks.    

America still faces a problem of the color line; in cities across the country and in rural areas of the Old South, the black underclass's situation is bad and getting worse.

While the U.S. has abolished slavery and adopted many civil rights laws, much work still needs to be done.  

The American professor says, "There are significant racial disparities in terms of economics, income, health care, criminal justice, and use of force by police officers against people of color."

The suffocation of George Floyd highlighted rampant racism in the United States.

Professor Schultz says Donald Trump brought racial rhetoric to the surface during his presidency. 

"The racial division in the U.S. has always existed, but there is no question that it has increased in the last few years, especially under Donald Trump.  His rhetoric inflamed racial tensions," Schultz argues.

The Chauvin trial could be a start to talk about some problematic challenges in American society, like police use of force against people of color. 

According to American media, police violence is a leading cause of death for young men in the United States. 

Over the life course, about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police. Risk of being killed by the police peaks between the ages of 20 to 35 for men and women and all racial and ethnic groups. Black women and men and American Indian and Alaska Native women and men are significantly more likely than white women and men to be killed by police. Latino men are also more likely to be killed by police than white men.

Schultz concludes that "the laws regarding police use of force have often insulated police officers from liability in terms of when they shoot suspects, including persons of color."

No doubt the problem is going to deepen more and more as President Joe Biden has inherited multiple political and societal challenges.

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