Even before the verdict was handed down, Derek Chauvin’s trial dominated social media for most of Tuesday. Chauvin is a former police officer in Minneapolis who has been indicted and now convicted of the death of George Floyd in May last year.
Within minutes of the verdict being announced, Twitter exploded with multiple hashtags evolving rapidly. They included #DerekChauvinTrial, #GUILTY, #SayHisName, #BlackLivesMatter and #ThankYouGod. In addition, “Count 1”, “Responsibility” and “ROT IN HELL” as well as “CANCELED GUARANTEE” were also in trend after the verdict was announced.
Within minutes, each of the hashtags had tens of thousands of tweets, where users expressed their feelings that justice was actually served. Many in the media have gone a little further than just spreading the news.
CBS News reporter / producer JC Whittington (@JCWhittington_) wrote, “Chauvin faces the potential for up to 40 years in prison. Right in jail, without bail.”
“Derek Chauvin found guilty of all three charges of killing George Floyd THANK GOD. HE WILL HISTORY IN HELL. Now we need Justice for Breonna Taylor,” multimedia journalist David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) offered.
Los Angeles Times editor of the Sewell Chan editorial site (@sewellchan) translated the verdict announcing, “Guilty on all counts, his bail lifted, Officer Derek Chauvin taken away in handcuffs, returned to the Hennepin County Sheriff to await verdict. End of one of the most important trials in modern U.S. history.”
Justice for George
It was clear that most of those who posed not only agreed with the verdict, but were even cheerful.
“‘Bail has been revoked and returned’ Such nice words. #GUILTY,” wrote Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab), a professor of sociology and medicine.
Many also vented their frustration by mocking the former police officer. Numerous memes appeared alongside “ROT IN HELL” on Tuesday, and some added the hashtag #ripbozo.
ROT IN HELL had more than 70,000 tweets within an hour of reading the verdict, while there were nearly 35,000 tweets praising Darnell Fraizer, a young woman who recorded the incident that led to George Floyd’s death last May.
All about responsibility
There have also been many on social media discussing “Responsibility,” calling for greater calls for police accountability after not only Floyd’s death, but other people of color than police across the country in recent years.
Many politicians who are not even from Minnesota have taken the time to express their thoughts on the issue.
Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey (@SenBooker) said, “Justice has been served. Responsibility for the murder of George Floyd is important and necessary. But it’s not enough – we still have to fix this deeply broken system. Today I’m thinking about George Floyd’s family, his daughter and his loved ones continue to mourn this unspeakable loss. “
“Justice is George Floyd still alive. But today’s verdict is a small step towards responsibility. I hope it brings some measure of peace to the George Floyd family. #BlackLivesMatter, today and always,” suggested MP Brenda Lawrence (@RepLawrence), (D -Mich.)
Tail. Chuy Garcia (@RepChuyGarcia) (D-Illinois) wrote, “The trial of Derek Chauvin has never been in justice, but in responsibility. Today’s verdict is proof that no one is above the law. We can and MUST prosecute acts of violence by police officers. George Floyd should be alive today. The fight for George and many others continues. “
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) added: “The verdicts handed down today were a strong statement of responsibility. But while I am grateful that the jury returned this verdict, responsibility is not the same as justice. It is now our job to channel this moment to make real, positive and long-overdue changes happen. “
Of course, in the case of Cuomo, he may have wished he had not responded the way many had pushed him toward the captured governor.
Crime and Punishment
Tuesday was also a topical issue of the maximum sentence Chauvin could face, and apparently many felt that his eventual sentence might not correspond to the crime.
“Here’s the problem: any of these sentences can be reduced by good behavior. This is not a life sentence, so it will come out in the end. I think this is a fake victory,” wrote @RazzberryBaz.
That opinion was shared by Chris Jansing of MSNBC (@ChrisJansing), “The bail is revoked. Chauvin will be sentenced in 8 weeks. Those who loved George Floyd still have a life sentence to be left without him.”
A rare sign of social media unity
Few expressed dissatisfaction with the verdict on social media on Tuesday afternoon.
“As for the answer to the verdict on social networks, several questions are at stake,” said technology industry analyst Charles King of Pund-IT. “First and foremost, the evidence against Chauvin, especially the video of his murder of George Floyd, was simply irresistible. In addition, Chauvin’s cavalier attitude toward Floyd’s condition suggested that his actions were racially motivated or motivated.
“In other words, Chauvin was caught showing the behavior you would expect from a wicked thief, not a sworn law enforcement officer,” King added. “So it’s not surprising that even the voices that could support Chauvin in other circumstances are quite muted. At least in public.”
And that could be a sign that the state could move toward addressing the issue of police accountability, and based on reactions on social media, laws and legislators are likely to take it seriously.
“This was a moment of transformation in American culture,” explained Dr. Matthew J. Schmidt, associate professor of political science at the University of New Haven.
“This is the beginning of real change in our country – this is the first time that the whole country is waiting to hear the verdict of a white police officer accused of killing a black man,” Schmidt added. “What is important to consider is that when you look at the story over the past 200 years, there has always been a black man who may have been rightly or wrongly accused. We have been waiting for those verdicts and now that has changed. As a result, we have seen the community come together. It really turns the story around. “
Even with other recent events, there were usually two sides on social media – where the two sides would dig their own battle lines, but that was not the case in Tuesday’s ruling. While there are some who believe the officer acted accordingly and agreed with the defense, they certainly did not go to social media.
They may have been so easy to surpass, but Dr. Schmidt saw it differently. “It’s because the culture has changed.”