It’s a beautiful day, I’m out shopping, I get hungry, I stop at Margaret Kuo’s. While I wait for my take out, I’m mesmerized by the TV on mute showing today’s incarnation of Johnnie Cochran in the form of Ben Crump standing with George Floyd’s family. I split my time between reading the closed captions and watching a true artist of sign language with the most attitude and swag I’ve ever seen. I don’t know a morsel of sign language, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.
Clearly, the big story of the day is Minneapolis paid a record $27 million to the family of George Floyd to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. As Crump said, “This historic agreement — is the largest pretrial settlement in a police civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history.”
The Minneapolis Mayor said we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to truly effectuate major policy changes in the pursuit of racial justice. The Minneapolis City Council President said, “No amount of money can ever address the intense pain or trauma caused by this death to George Floyd’s family or to the people of our city.”
As I peruse today’s papers, I notice how $27 million settlements are covered differently in different papers. The Delaware County Daily Times threw up a little AP summary on page 11 with a half dozen other Associate Press summaries. The Philadelphia Inquirer had a front page story under the fold and the Washington Post had a front page story above the fold. The Philadelphia Daily News didn’t bother at all.
The timing of this settlement is a big deal in more ways than one. Of course, $27 million is an expensive way to acknowledge guilt or to acknowledge blatant wrongdoing, but the big question now is how will it affect the justice process moving forward.
Most City Council’s put out a meeting agenda a few days before the meeting so folks know what’s coming up. Yet, Minneapolis City Council tossed in a last-minute addition to their agenda to vote on the $27 million settlement. It’s pretty easy to assume they were going to unanimously vote in favor no matter when they put it on the agenda. So why the sense of urgency?
Well, could it have something to do with the Chauvin trial?
Jury selection for the Chauvin’s trial began this week. Already, Chauvin’s attorney, sought to block mention of any possible payout by the city to the Floyd’s family, arguing it would be prejudicial. Seven members of the jury have been impaneled so far. Jury selection is scheduled to continue Monday and I think it will be kinda hard for any of the remaining jurors to have not heard of the $27 million settlement unless they only subscribe to the Philadelphia Daily News.
Some legal observers said the $27 million settlement could result in a possible mistrial. The concern is that jurors will have a hard time avoiding the news the city gave George Floyd’s family $27 million, even if they try.
Crump said he had less faith in the “discriminatory criminal justice system.” He said history shows there is “no guarantee” that a White officer will be convicted of killing a Black man.
I’m not saying the timing of the settlement is a set up, but the Chauvin’s case has found a little wiggle room thanks to the timing of the $27 million settlement.