Democrats Haphazardly Celebrate Chauvin Verdict, Enrage Activists.

Everything was going okay until Nancy started talking.

After a jury of his peers found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts presented for the murder of George Floyd, Democrats across the country were quick to celebrate the case’s long-anticipated result.

The most haphazard of these responses was uttered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi shortly after the trial concluded.

“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice,” Pelosi said. “For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that?”

Uhh, no. Just no.

First off, George Floyd was not a martyr for the Democrat’s uninspired police reform bill that egregiously bears his name and ignores protester's demands. Floyd was a victim of an over-militarized policing industry that dominates municipal budgets, bullies city officials, rewards vigilantism and brutalizes dissent at an alarming rate.

It’s a reform measure aimed to placate white liberals, not resolve centuries of racially biased policing. Or, as Derecka Purnell put it in her dissection of the bill for Guardian, “The George Floyd Act wouldn’t have saved George Floyd’s life.”

However, the bill does fit on the thin tightrope establishment Democrats plan to walk regarding calls for police reform and abolition.

Many Democrats, such as Virginia Senator Mark Warner, are eager to distance the party from unrelenting activists and “defund the police” rhetoric, blaming the movement for the party’s various electoral failures in 2020, a claim that, turns out, is pretty bogus.

Warner celebrated the justice won in court without mentioning the activists outside the Minneapolis courthouse, many of whom have risked their lives keeping pressure on police departments nationwide.

This verdict should have been a relieving moment for activists and community leaders that steered last year’s nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing. Unfortunately, they were intentionally upstaged by politicians desperate to take credit for a social movement many have attempted to distance themselves from.

Of course, this is because protesters, successful ones who make accountability, justice, or change happen, are not always “peaceful,” an oxymoron and “contradiction in terms” that Democrats and corporate media talking heads desperately cling to.

It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, virtue-signaling against police brutality while simultaneously gaslighting protesters and accomplishing nothing legislatively to dismantle the systems that embolden violent officers.

According to reporting from Axios, the George Floyd Act is as far as both Democrats or Republicans are willing to go on policing, hoping “the convictions have lessened pressure for change.”

A genuine commitment to change in policing could have saved Daunte Wright, whom officer Kim Potter executed at a traffic stop as Chauvin’s trial played out mere miles away.

Lowering the police budget could have protected the First Amendment rights of citizens protesting Wright’s killing. Protesters and journalists alike are being met with a disturbing show of force by the police department who killed Wright and Minnesota's National Guard, sent into the city by Governor Tim Waltz, a Democrat.

Not to be outdone by the blue team, First Amendment rights are under attack in Republican-majority statehouses nationwide. Kentucky is attempting to make the violent crime of hurting a cop’s feelings carry a 3-month prison sentence. A Florida bill recently signed into law gives immunity to drivers who intentionally try to run over protesters. So-called “anti-riot” laws are attacking civil liberties in 34 states in total.

President Joe Biden, now a well-practiced master of accomplish-nothing centrism, does not seem concerned about any of this. He could hardly get through his vague repudiation of Wright’s killing without chastising protesters, telling the media there is “absolutely no justification” for looting and violence.

Despite Biden’s “we can’t stop here” grandstanding after Chauvin’s guilty verdict, establishment Democrats are plainly uninterested in moving past the liberal fantasy of police reform. They are in no way prepared to fight for police abolition. They also refuse to reduce police spending, despite how ineffective and brutal these departments prove to be.

This political calculus, while possibly correct electorally, leaves last year’s activists hung out to dry. They are now more exposed to retributive police departments and conservative politicians eager to imprison them for their lawful dissent.

There is still time to right this ship, but it will take a level of political willpower not shown by Democrats since the days of LBJ, as well as a repudiation of bad-faith bipartisanship not seen since FDR. At this point in Joe “nothing would fundamentally change” Biden’s first term, I am not optimistic.

Nick Lozier.

Writer, photographer, and progressive activist in Seattle.

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