But some right-wing media continue to do their best to turn this tragedy over drug use and Floyd’s troubled life into what appears to be an attempt to absolve Chauvin long before the jury returns a verdict. Indeed, they are put Floyd on trial.
It sounds too familiar. It’s the “well, he wasn’t an angel” story, obliquely accusing the victim of his fate. It’s a narrative too often applied to black men who die at the hands of the police.
It might remind you of how women who lay charges of sexual assault are so often described as crazy or see how short her skirt was!).
When teenager Michael Brown received the same ‘he’s not an angel’ treatment after being shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, perpetrator Touré was one of many to oppose . “It is as if a black person has to be a perfect victim to escape brutality,” he wrote, “an angel with an unblemished history to justify justice.”
In a recent opinion piece for Town Hall titled “Derek Chauvin, Human Sacrifice,” the outrageous Ann Coulter went so far as to distort basic facts. “The Chief Medical Examiner’s report establishes that regardless of how Floyd died, it was not from Chauvin’s knee,” she wrote.
Simply Wrong: The Hennepin County Medical Examiner declared Floyd’s death a homicide, just like a private autopsy. The county called the cause of his death “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating the subdualization, restraint and compression of the neck by law enforcement.”
“Two autopsies of George Floyd differ on the exact cause of his death,” the Washington Post noted in an in-depth review of the case last year, “but they agree on this point: the Afro-man 46-year-old American was the victim of homicide. “
Experts noted the high level of fentanyl in Floyd’s body, which Coulter, a wickedness specialist, said was “enough to wipe out an entire team of Budweiser Clydesdales.”
Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson has been involved in this campaign for months.
“There was no physical evidence that George Floyd was murdered by a cop,” he confidently told his audience in February. “The autopsy showed that George Floyd almost certainly died of an overdose of the drug, fentanyl.”
Carlson returned to the subject in a long segment in March as jury selection was underway. He rejected the idea that Floyd represented all black men who receive unfair treatment from the US criminal justice system. Showing a video of burning Minneapolis, he mocked the racial justice movement that followed Floyd’s death: “Because he’s dead, we have something called ‘fairness’. “
In fact, Carlson thinks injustice is going in the opposite direction. “It is likely that Derek Chauvin will not get a fair trial,” he said, using words like “mob justice”.
Carlson also found it necessary to go through Floyd’s previous arrests. These have absolutely nothing to do with the Chauvin murder trial – except that they fit well with the “no angel” story: whatever happens, it is. his fault.
Coverage of Fox’s trial last week conveyed the same point in a slightly more subtle way: “DARK PAST DETAILED” made headlines after Floyd’s girlfriend described her own struggles with opioid addiction as well as Floyd’s. Even Fox media critic Howard Kurtz, the former Washington Post reporter who is generally a relatively unbiased voice, saw fit to use code language.
“George Floyd was no angel,” Kurtz said on air last weekend. “He was a drug addict who initially resisted arrest. Still, I don’t see too many commentators saying that Derek Chauvin gets a rough deal by being charged with second degree murder and manslaughter.
It’s hard to see a clear connection between Floyd’s past and Chauvin’s supposed need for more sympathetic media coverage. But, again, this sort of thing goes back many years. In 2000, when 26-year-old security guard Patrick Dorismond was killed outside a New York nightclub after pushing undercover officers, then-mayor Rudy Giuliani sniffed that Dorismond no ‘was’ not an altar boy’.
Whatever it was supposed to mean, it wasn’t factual. Much to Rudy’s chagrin, it turned out that Dorismond had, in fact, been an altar boy.
Two decades later, not much has changed, but it has to be.
The “angelless” story and its variations are racist slander. Unlike George Floyd, they deserve to die.
READ MORE by Margaret Sullivan: