by Martin Odoni

Yesterday was a day of horrifying contrasts in emotion in the USA. The different extremes were about the same issue; police brutality.

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, is notorious worldwide for kneeling on the throat of George Floyd and asphyxiating him in May last year. Yesterday a court found him guilty of murder at the end of his (bizarrely) long trial.

The ex-police officer who murdered George Floyd has actually been convicted

No closing-of-ranks for once

Unusually in an instance of police brutality against a black man, the Minneapolis Police did not hesitate to act. They disowned Chauvin, dismissed him and three of his colleagues from the force, and pressed charges of murder.

When Judge Peter Cahill announced the verdict, it triggered scenes of celebration and tears of relief all over the USA, and beyond. A moment of triumph, when the Black Lives Matter movement at last made real headway in the struggle against the disease of racist policing?

Conviction and new murder simultaneously

Sadly, events elsewhere in the USA would prove this a bitter delusion. A day for celebration in the struggle for fair treatment of ethnic minorities instead became a day that reinforced the usual despair. For in Columbus, around the time Cahill read out the Chauvin verdict, Ohio police gunned down a black teenage girl. Four shots. She died instantly.

Ma’khia Bryant. the latest victim of what appears to be yet another very unnecessary police shooting.

The girl’s name was Ma’khia Bryant. She was armed with a knife, but the USA believes in the right to bear arms in self-defence, right? Miss Bryant had in fact called the police herself. She was scared a gang of other girls were about to mug her. Sure enough, some kind of fight had broken out by the time the police arrived on the scene.

Seconds before death. Ma’khia Bryant, in the blue jeans, does appear to be acting violently, although this freeze-frame gives no indication of what happened earlier in the altercation. She did claim she was about to be attacked when she called the police a few minutes earlier.

As only ever seems to happen with black victims, the police assumed Miss Bryant was behaving in a violent manner. A 15 year old girl. On her own. Armed only with a knife. And she had called the police in herself. It is possible that she was using the knife against her assailants when the police arrived. But even so, shooting her four times does sound a ridiculous way of ‘de-escalating’.