It surprised everyone when Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand to testify against one of his own officers, Derek Chauvin, at his trial for the killing of George Floyd. Police are legendary for standing together, whether their brother in blue is going through a tough divorce or has just killed a man in cold blood on video. But Floyd’s killing, or perhaps just the political firestorm it set blazing across the U.S. in the summer of 2020, was apparently a bridge too far.
Arradondo’s testimony that Chauvin’s conduct was against his training and department policy and was “certainly not a part of our ethics or our values,” no doubt contributed to the jury being willing to return a guilty verdict on all three counts relating to the death. And he isn’t the only police official now breaking the “blue wall of silence.”
“The American justice system has not always served all of her people well, and the death of George Floyd is a shocking example of where we can fail each other,” said Police Chief Shon Barnes, the first Black police leader in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. “As an officer of the law, I believe that today justice has prevailed. We hear you.”
“The work of doing justice for George Floyd doesn’t end today,” said San Francisco Police Chief William Scott. “My hope for all of us in criminal justice roles is that we rise to this moment, and learn the lessons that history has, frankly, been trying to teach us for decades.”
“Anyone who would question the righteousness of this conviction, I would say they really need to take a good, hard look at their own gut because I question their humanity,” said Art Acevedo, police chief for Miami and also the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a union of police chiefs.
Skeptics may find this sudden outpouring insincere, and they could be right. Or they could be wrong. But the public nature of these statements, whether 100% genuine or due to public pressure, deserves to be recorded in history as a turning of the tide.