Trial Trauma: Why I Can’t Watch The Chauvin Trial
I can’t bring myself to watch the Derek Chauvin case. My heart and mind can’t take it. I see snippets on the news and get updates from friends and fellow writers, but I can’t watch it. According to mental health experts, the trial can be triggering to Black people as we watch testimonies and repeatedly see the video of Mr. Floyd’s torturous murder.
The case should be cut and dry — Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. The video and every expert witness confirmed it.
I watched a few minutes of his girlfriend’s testimony and I had to cut it off. The pictures of the teenager, Darnella Frazier crying as she talked about helplessly filming his murder was gut wrenching. How much trauma can one person or a group of people endure?
“Revisiting the events connected to George Floyd’s death serve as a visual reminder of the devaluing of Black life and the potential costs associated with racism and discrimination,” said Steven Kniffley Jr., a clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Spalding University’s School of Professional Psychology.
I started losing faith in 1992 after only 4 of the many officers were filmed brutally beating Rodney King weren’t instantly fired. Then, when all 4 officers were acquitted including Laurence Powell (who hit Mr. King over 40 times with his baton), I remember crying and wondering what did I see that the jury didn’t. There wasn’t a Black person on the jury.
I remember being sad, angry and scared — because if I felt like this as a teenager- 100’s of miles away, I could only imagine what the people in Los Angeles felt who were living with this blatant bias and police violence on a regular basis. I could feel a trembling of unrest — injustice fueled the rage and destruction that filled the streets. I didn’t and will never condone destroying property — but I understood the inexplicable fury.
But when George Zimmerman was acquitted in the 2013 murder trial of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — I lost all faith in the criminal justice system. A jury of all white and Hispanic women acquitted this horrible fully grown human of murdering a child he stalked and attacked. It was becoming clear that there’s no justice for Black people if the perpetrator is law enforcement, white or close enough — in Zimmerman’s case.
I wish I were strong enough to watch Derek Chauvin’s trial, but I’m not. My heart can’t take knowing that another Black person senselessly lost their life because our lives and humanity are not valued or respected.
Every time I think of George Floyd crying for his mother and his child losing her father, I just start tearing up.
Every time I see Sybrina Fulton’s face, I see the permanent veil of sorrow and grief from losing her son, not getting justice, and seeing his killer continue to commit crimes and have the audacity to sue her…
It’s depressing and dealing with the daily challenges of systemic racism is already taxing, but adding murder and injustice has led to racial battle fatigue. I’m raw and triggered just by the thought — but to watch these trials of injustice rubs salt in this old, nasty wound.
I commend all the people who are watching Chauvin’s trial because we need to pay attention and stay vigilant. However, there is a sense of helplessness and apathy I can’t shake — although I’m praying for a different result. We’ve been here too many times with compelling arguments, videos and expert witnesses and a jury still acquits…
I wish there was a better screening process for jurors and more Black and brown people were chosen or could serve.
I want to thank all the people who are watching and the people who are covering this historic trial. I think this verdict — will be another milestone in American history. If Derek Chauvin is acquitted after the world witnessed him murder George Floyd for a suspicious $20 bill — America will continue to be tarnished by its inequality and hypocrisy… However, a conviction would be a step in the right direction to finally make this country safe and just for all…
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