To the editor: When I was growing up — long before Fox “News,” before the internet and its insidious conspiracy rabbit holes — daily news broadcasts at 6 and 11 pm were watched faithfully in most American homes.
Trusted national network anchors reported the day’s main stories without much in the way of divergent editorial slant. When Walter Cronkite said “That’s the way it is,” America believed him. I miss living in a culture mostly rooted in a shared reality. We didn’t all agree about everything (this was America, after all) but the news was the news, and “alternative facts” were recognized as a symptom of psychosis.
While following the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, I’ve thought about the responsibility of trial juries to impartially consider the weight of evidence. I wonder whether we as citizens can ever again manage to evaluate events on the basis of fact, not spin or ideology. This trial might be a good test. It’s being broadcast live on the politically neutral C-SPAN, and is streaming in real time at CourtTV.com. I urge anyone who questions the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, or feels there’s no middle ground between defunding and defending the police, to view this trial.
The trial has not changed my belief that police departments should be held to account for excessive use of force. Abundant rules and procedures that should protect citizens from police abuse are already in place. Training programs and oversight structures already exist within departments. So why are there so rarely consequences when law enforcement fails to comply? How do we hold police to account when they break the law?
I believe Derek Chauvin is guilty of murder because I’ve watched the video footage and listened to eyewitnesses, medical experts and law enforcement specialists testify to the unlawful, unnecessary brutality and likely lethal effect of Chauvin’s actions that day. Check out the evidence if you disagree; at least then we can have a real conversation.
We can’t remain huddled on opposite sides of some ideological divide when it comes to issues like police brutality. We should be talking honestly and factually about how it happens, and what can be done to restore our trust in law enforcement whose duty it is to serve and protect us, not each other.
Robin Vaughan Kolderie, Hoosick, N.Y.