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Judge drops 3rd-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin

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A judge on Thursday dropped charges of third-degree murder against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who used excessive force against George Floyd, a Black man, back in May. The other charges—second-degree murder and manslaughter—still remain.

Chauvin was videotaped on May 25 pushing his knee down on Floyd’s neck, who was on his stomach and handcuffed, for nine straight minutes until he died from the asphyxiation, despite repeatedly telling Chauvin that he could not breathe. Floyd’s death was categorized as a homicide on June 6 by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

Three other officers—Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane—were at the scene throughout the incident and appear in the viral video. They were fired alongside Chauvin.

Additionally, Minneapolis Judge Peter A. Cahill declined to dismiss the charges against the other three officers. They face charges for aiding and abetting in the killing of Floyd.

The incident and the viral video that captured the scene sparked nationwide, as well as worldwide, protests against police brutality and systemic racism this past summer, bringing racial injustice back to the forefront of the national dialogue.

While defense attorneys had argued that there wasn’t enough probable cause to charge all the officers, the prosecutors claimed that there was enough to try them on every charge. The prosecutors argued that Chauvin purposely assaulted Floyd and would thus qualify for a second-degree murder charge and that the other officers assisted him.

Ultimately, Judge Cahill agreed with Chauvin’s legal team and decided to drop third-degree murder from the roster of charges against him, a less severe charge than murder in the second degree.

Citing Minnesota Supreme Court precedents, Cahill argued that the only person that Chauvin directly harmed was Floyd and could not have hurt anybody else, meaning a charge for third-degree murder was not applicable to this case because “probable cause does not exist for the third-degree murder charge.”

According to the Star Tribune: “Third-degree murder is an unusual, uncommon count that some defense attorneys have said didn’t suit the Floyd case. Some attorneys have said the charge best fits a situation such as a person randomly shooting into a moving train and killing someone.”

On October 7, Chauvin was released from jail on a bond of $1 million, while the others were released on $750,000 bond.

In the protests that erupted following Chauvin’s release, 51 individuals were arrested in Minneapolis on a variety of charges that were primarily misdemeanors.

All four officers are set to stand trial in March, however, the judge is still deciding on whether or not to try them all together or separately.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Shanghai: China’s Potemkin Village

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Following a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a month-long draconian lockdown on the residents of Shanghai. The CCP has used the outbreak to persecute its own citizens, including through forced evictions and quarantines, and placing alarms on doors to prevent COVID-19 people from leaving their homes. The harsh measures have resulted in food and healthcare shortages and separation of families.

But of course, we wouldn’t know that by reading the CCP-run press readily available in the United States. Instead of presenting the facts, the CCP engages in a comprehensive propaganda campaign that props up Shanghai as a Chinese Potemkin village. The CCP media asserts that China’s actions in Shanghai are benevolent and wise, while Western criticism is a product of malice. Chinese state-run media also insists that the Shanghai lockdown promotes economic stability in China and the world.

Claim 1: China Has the Best Policy for Combating COVID-19

The CCP media portray the Shanghai lockdown as the best and ideal policy. As cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach” is “the best option to save lives,” according to a “Rwandan researcher and publisher,” “…a miracle for us to learn,” according to a Kenyan scholar, and “a very ideal response,” according to Ethiopia’s National COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator. According to CCP media, Chinese citizens have greeted the Shanghai lockdown warmly, even with “[a] mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness,” according to China Daily.

Claim 2: The West Hypocritically Defames China

The CCP press also accuses the West of lying about the Shanghai lockdown, and using COVID policies for nefarious ends. According to XinhuaNet, “Shanghai…has never imposed what Western media described as a ‘lockdown.’” Other CCP editorials actually accuse the West of malice. One Global Times editorial claims that the lockdown “has been deliberately exaggerated by the West.” Another Global Times editorial asserts that the Western approach of “coexisting with the virus” amounts to a way “…to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity,” and a form of “cruel social Darwinism.”

Claim 3: China’s COVID Policies Result in an Economic Windfall to China and the World

The CCP also portrays the lockdown as necessary to achieve great economic growth in China and beyond. One Global Times editorial, while conceding that the lockdown amounted to a “sealing-off,” it is “a temporary measure to better resume work and production and to make the economy and society function more effectively. Its effectiveness has been proven.” According to another Global Times editorial, China’s policy is “widely considered to be the best strategy…to both contain the epidemic and ensure stable economic development.”

In an Orwellian fashion, Chinese press claims that China is solving, not causing, the world’s economic problems. According to XinhuaNet, “China has played a decisive role in stabilizing the global economy and resuming the supply chain disrupted by COVID-19.” Citing a Bloomberg article, the same XinhuaNet editorial claims that China “has prevented a huge number of deaths at home and ensured that everything from iPhones and Teslas to fertilizer and car parts continues to flow to the rest of the world.” Chinese citizens, of course, are collateral damage: Ji Qiwei, vice-general manager of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, stated that “The domestic market may be impacted a little by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, but our export market will continue to see strong growth,” according to China Daily.

While the world continues to suffer economic and human damage as a result of COVID-19, China continues to revise history regarding its role. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China seeks to portray itself as a benevolent force in the fight against the virus.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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