In his Feb. 21 column "The challenge of a fair trial for Chauvin," D.J. Tice says, "Another basic question that could become complicated concerns how [George] Floyd died." No, it won't.
Tice says that's because the medical examiner found "the presence of heart disease and dangerous drugs." But as he notes, the death is listed as "homicide." Homicide is the killing of one human being by another. Chauvin's actions, intent and state of mind are surely going to be scrutinized, but he did take Floyd's life, of that there is no doubt. Floyd died on that day, at that time, because Chauvin put a knee on his neck.
There is no enfeebled-victim defense. If there were, running over an elderly pedestrian could be defended on the grounds that if the victim had been young and spry, she could have jumped out the way in time, and besides, she wouldn't have been injured as badly and killed.
Consider also the cases of a husband (it's almost always the husband) who kills his wife to alleviate real and serious pain from terminal illness. What do we do in those cases? We charge the husband with homicide, because it is still the taking of the life of a human being by another human being. It's no defense to say that the wife had not long to live.
Conservative media has been trying to muddy up the cause of Floyd's death since that May evening, but in the eyes of the law it's crystal-clear.
Steve Timmer, Edina
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Tice is right that it will be difficult seating an unbiased jury for the trials of Chauvin and the others. Not only that, but once seated, the jury will have to deal with many confusing details.
Tice brought up a couple of them. They will have to decide exactly what a "chokehold" is in this case and what the coroner meant "by no physical signs of suffocation." From the name, it's easy to think a chokehold causes death by closing off the airway. That is not necessarily so. Did the coroner look for evidence only in the trachea and lungs? Or was the chokehold Chauvin used a form of the old "sleeper hold," long-outlawed from wrestling and sometimes still used on the street? This form of chokehold interrupts blood supply to and from the brain and can render a person unconscious, quickly leading to brain damage and death.
As for the finding of drugs in Floyd's system, would he have died on that corner and at that time from an overdose if he had not been restrained in that manner? Did the officers suspect he was on drugs? If so, could or should they have administered Narcan? What about heart disease? Again, would the suspect have died then and there from his heart problems? A lot of us take drugs to keep our hearts from giving out too soon.
Did Floyd die with Chauvin's knee on his neck? Or did he die from Chauvin's knee on his neck? How well will the prosecution and defense work through these and other issues? I'm glad I will probably not be called and, if called, not selected.
John M. Widen, Minneapolis
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Some activists who plan to protest during Chauvin's trial are upset that the government is preparing for the possibility of civil unrest ("Protesters ready to march during Chauvin trial," Feb. 26). Michelle Gross of Communities Against Police Brutality called the preparations "outlandish." Perhaps she forgot that about 400 businesses were damaged or destroyed during last summer's looting and rioting at a cost of $55 million.
Trahern Crews of Black Lives Matter said: "We're hoping to be celebrating justice after this trial; we're not here to talk about civil unrest. But if you're preparing to give us an unjust verdict and you want to bring the military in because you know you're unjust, then we have a problem." That sounds like a threat to me, and it highlights one of the biggest flaws in the anti-police-brutality movement: The protesters are unwilling to accept any outcome other than what they have decided is just.
When Michael Brown was killed, it was initially reported that he was shot in the back while he had his hands up and was trying to surrender. That turned out not to be true. The FBI investigated that case and found that the majority of the facts supported the policeman's story that he shot Brown in self-defense. To this day, protesters continue to invoke Brown's name as an innocent victim of police violence.
It seems prudent to me to prepare for the possibility of rioting and looting because a lot of people have very strong emotions regarding the Chauvin trial, because last summer showed us that it can happen here at great cost to businesses and property owners, and because some activists, by their own admission, are prepared to accept only a verdict that they agree with.
James Brandt, St. Paul
The destruction here was like the destruction elsewhere
I wish to thank Star Tribune local columnist Myron Medcalf for his Feb. 21 column calling the uprooting of the Rondo neighborhood for what it was — a blatant display of white racism. I can only think of one difference between it and the destruction of Black communities in Colfax, La. (1873); Wilmington, N.C. (1898); Atlanta, Ga. (1906); East St. Louis, Il. (1917); Tulsa, Okla. (1921); Rosewood, Fla. (1923), to name a few: I'm unaware of any Rondo residents being killed outright in the process. But when more than 600 African American families lose their homes and numerous businesses and neighborhood institutions are destroyed, it's because those in power (white people) do not like to see Black members of the community do well. Destruction of their property eliminated their ability to build family wealth. Perhaps we could experiment with the idea of reparations by doing so with the families who lost their homes and businesses in that unsavory deal. It won't be enough, but it could be a start.
Gloria Karbo, Minneapolis
What we see is the nature of how this industry evolved
The Feb. 21 article "Rural grocers feel pinch" mentions the demise of local grocery stores, especially in small towns in Minnesota. Included was mention of my adopted hometown of Onamia, of which I might add a bit of perspective.
When I came to work in this burg of less than 700 over 50 years ago, there were no less than three grocery stores operating on Main Street, Onamia. As the article states, today there are none.
Similarly, growing up in my birth-town of St. Cloud during the 1950s, I dare say there were dozens of mom-and-pop grocery stores each within 10 or so blocks of each other scattered throughout this city of then 35,000. Until the early 1960s, when Red Owl and Super Valu came to town, residents of the Granite City were relegated to shopping locally at their small, neighborhood stores. Today, one would be hard-pressed to find one of those mom-and-pops still standing.
There are also towns around the Twin Cities with populations in the thousands that find themselves without a local grocery store. But, that is the nature of how this industry has evolved. Plainly and simply: If there would be money to be made, there would be a grocery store in every town.
Bob Statz, Onamia, Minn.
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