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Chauvin’s Eyes Tell All
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has revealed to us everything we need to know about him without saying a word. On May 25, 2020, when he took George Floyd’s life it was clear we were looking at a man whose “heart was too small,” as Special Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said in the trial’s closing statement.
While kneeling on Floyd’s neck, the police officer stared directly into the cellphone cameras that were surrounding the scene. The “bouquet of humanity,” as they’ve been described was witness to a slow, deliberate murder. For an alleged fake $20 bill, Chauvin decided to extinguish Floyd’s life because he could. As a white man and as a law enforcement officer, he could rely on decades of evidence to inform him that taking a Black man’s life was no more significant than killing a roach--just one less Black man in the world.
After the judge read the jury’s verdict finding Chauvin guilty of second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter, Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, said, “God is good,” during an interview at George Floyd Square, site of the Memorial Day murder. In true African tradition, the crowd responded, “All the time.”
Many are calling the jury’s verdict an “inflection point” for America and its schizophrenic relationship with Black people. We’ve seen Black people killed by police for minor infractions on camera in the past. We’ve seen the police walk away without charges and some return back to work. What makes this time different is the “bouquet of humanity” who randomly stumbled upon Chauvin and Floyd and decided it was their duty to help a fellow human being in distress.
“It wasn’t right,” said Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who started recording the incident and didn’t stop until Floyd’s body was put in an ambulance.
“The only time he looked up was when I said it was a blood choke,” said Donald Williams, during testimony. Williams is a competitive mixed martial arts fighter who is heard on the recording trying to appeal to Chauvin’s humanity.
“I would have opened his airway to check for obstructions and I would have checked for a pulse,” testified off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and certified EMT Genevieve Hanson. Like Williams she can be heard pleading to save Floyd’s life.
These three people may have randomly converged on the corner of East 38th Street & Chicago Avenue to make a quick stop at Cup Foods, but their presence wasn’t random.
Floyd’s death set off protests around the world. In the middle of a pandemic, Black people were and are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We were and are tired of the proverbial knee on our necks that has prevented us from breathing for centuries. We were and are tired of the government-sanctioned lynching of Black people that Ida B. Wells aptly described more than 100 years ago, “In fact, for all kinds of offenses - and, for no offenses - from murders to misdemeanors, men and women are put to death without judge or jury.”
The darting of Chauvin’s pupils back and forth while the judge was reading the verdict was his only sign of expression. Experts say that’s a sign of someone thinking hard or retrieving memories. In Chauvin’s case, I’m sure it was both. For 9 minutes and 29 seconds, he stared at passersby begging him for compassion. From the first “guilty” to the third “guilty,” his eyes revealed him reliving every final moment of George Floyd’s life.  Now, Chauvin will have years to replay his decision to choose white supremacy over his sworn duty, “To Protect with Courage, To Serve with Compassion.”
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Thank you,
Delmarie Cobb
Ida’s Legacy Committee

Paid for and authorized by Ida's Legacy Committee. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board's official website ( or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois. Contributions and gifts are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes. 
The Ida B. Wells Legacy Committee is not affiliated with the Ida B. Wells family or any other endeavor bearing her name.

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