Calling Chauvin a “Bad Apple” Denies Systemic Nature of Racist Police Violence

Law enforcement stands guard outside the Hennepin County Government Center, as the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues inside, on April 2, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Law enforcement stands guard outside the Hennepin County Government Center, as the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues inside, on April 2, 2021, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd proceeds, the prosecution will try to portray the defendant as a “bad apple.” In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell alerted the jurors that they would hear police officials testify Chauvin used excessive force in violation of departmental policy to apply restraints only as necessary to bring a person under control. However, this argument obfuscates the racist violence inherent in the U.S. system of policing.

The first prosecution witness to testify about Minnesota Police Department (MPD) policies was retired Sgt. David Ploeger, the supervising police sergeant on duty the day Chauvin killed Floyd. It was his job to conduct use of force reviews. Ploeger testified, “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officer,” when he was handcuffed on the ground and no longer resisting, “they could have ended the restraint.”

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