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Floyd Trial's Truth: Notes From a Baltimore Jail

Jamie Stiehm on

The jury is in. They spoke swiftly and clearly: guilty on all counts. At the Capitol, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said, "Justice was served in a modern-day lynching." He said he had high hopes for a police reform act named for George Floyd.

Officer Derek Chauvin calmly put his knee on Floyd's neck for the world to see. He looked at his watch like he had all the time in the world as he took Floyd's breath away.

The trial brings me back to a June night in Baltimore years ago, when I was home reading in my solarium. As midnight stretched into early morning, I found myself in the women's jail, a Dickensian pile of stones.

Bruised and battered from witnessing a scene of police brutality, I had the mug shot to tell the tale to my editor, family and friends.

Floyd had no chance to do that.

I felt empathy for his claustrophobia, the fear written on his face. And for what? A counterfeit $20 bill. Isn't a Black man's life worth more than that? Why did a minor incident draw four officers using deadly force?

 

Something is rotten in the state of America.

At least I lived to tell the tale about abuse by the "po-lice" as they say in Baltimore. For a white woman, it gave a rare glimpse into how harsh law enforcement can be.

Floyd's death was a glaring reminder that Black men suffer the brunt of police brutality, even in cities far north of the Deep South.

We don't really grasp that, we privileged people.

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