The short answers to the title question are No and It depends. In one respect, justice can only be judged by the aggrieved. In another, it can only be judged by history.
For history to be a reliable judge, it must be taught. A certain Party here in the U.S. of A. seems to be in a constant battle to rewrite it.
In a post-truth America, that certain Party wants to make Donald Trump look like a good president and the Capitol insurrections into Black people, anti-Facists, Lefties dressed up as Trumpanzees and of course, the FBI.
They also want to do a bit of tweaking to cleanse the role of White people throughout our history, not realizing that their very pushback against critical race theory – which is actually just HISTORY – is confirmation of systemically denied justice.
For Republicans, Klansmen, Nazis and other assorted ne’er do wells, any sentence for Derek Chauvin is too long, since they believe that Chauvin should not have been charged in the first place.
That goes double for TucKKKer Carlson.
In their appearance immediately following the sentencing, George Floyd’s family spoke of their disappointment with the sentence. One person called it a slap on the wrist.
It’s hyperbolic to call twenty years in jail a slap on the wrist, but it’s also understandable that Chauvin’s sentence left the Floyd family with no real closure. It’s doubtful that any sentence would have given them a sense of justice.
Those 9-1/2 minutes can not be unseen.
Certainly no justice was served for Tamir Rice, Filando Castile, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin or countless others whose names never found their way into our conversations.
Judge Peter Cahill seems like a thoughful, honorable and deliberative man.
In his 22-page written decision, he revealed the step-by-step process he employed evaluating the evidence and testimony produced at Chauvin’s trial.
Cahill enumerated four aggravating factors that could have been used to increase whatever sentence was mandated by Chauvin’s guilty verdict, but decided that only two were appropriate.
While some might think that one aggravating factor, the cruelty with which the crime was committed should add about 15 years to the sentence, Cahill’s decision was made in a reasonable way by a reasonable man.
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty gave a statement during the sentencing hearing that may offer a glimpse into his upbringing. She did not offer any sympathy to the Floyd family, apologize to anyone nor acknowledge the significance of her son’s actions.
Pawlenty complained that her son was portrayed in the media as a racist, something with which he was neither charged nor prosecuted.
She went on to portray both her son and herself as the victims:
Derek has played over and over in his head the events of that day. I’ve seen the toll it has taken on him. I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me, she said.
It should be noted here that as a general rule, prison sentences are not designed to serve felons or their mothers.
No sentence could bring real justice to any victim’s family and no one conviction can bring justice to a broken system.
As long as we maintain separate systems of justice for those that can afford dream team lawyers and another that turns a blind eye to racially based injustice, we will continue an uphill struggle to achieve semblances of justice on a case by case basis.
Like alcoholics or drug addicts, it will only be when we admit that we have a problem that we will be able to address it. In the mean time, I would advise my Black readers to keep your tail lights in good repair.
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