By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of late civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said an acquittal in the trial of the white ex-police officer accused of killing George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, would show the United States’ justice system to be “terribly broken and flawed.”
The human rights advocate and life member of the board of directors of The King Center – an Atlanta-based institution dedicated to advancing his father’s legacy – said in an interview with Efe via videoconference that African-Americans and other people of color historically have rarely obtained justice through the courts.
Even so, he said he is confident now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, who faces charges of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, will be convicted “at the highest level.”
Opening arguments in the trial are set to begin on the morning of March 29.
“There’s a concern that, even with all of this information, that an officer may not be convicted. I really don’t think that’s going to happen this time,” the 63-year-old King III said. “If he’s not convicted, our system is terribly broken and flawed.”
He was referring to security and bystander video showing that Chauvin knelt on the 46-year-old Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes on a street corner in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020, while three fellow officers looked on and the suspect was handcuffed on the ground and repeatedly said he was unable to breathe.
Floyd, who had been arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill, was pronounced dead later that day.
Violent protests comparable to the riots that followed the 1968 assassination of King Jr. erupted in cities across the US last summer in the wake of Floyd’s death.
King III, whose father urged non-violent resistance to segregationist laws in the US, also advocates the “peaceful resolution” of problems but would not be surprised to see violence if Chauvin is acquitted.
“When you push people and you constantly mistreat them over and over again, at some point they feel they have no choice. And so they may engage in something that’s destructive, as opposed to something that might be constructive,” he said.
According to the rights activist, his father would be torn about the present-day state of America.
Although he “would be greatly disappointed in where we are today in terms of all the divisions that exist in our society between blacks and whites,” he would have been very proud of the nationwide protests that followed Floyd’s death.
“There had never been civil rights demonstrations in every state,” King III said.
Looking forward, he said further legal progress is needed to create a better society.
Obtaining congressional approval for a police reform bill known as the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has been passed by the House of Representatives and is to be considered by the Senate, would be a positive step and “give people some belief that, okay, we’re at least attempting to make changes,” King III said.