April 4, 2021 Abdul Haqq

Chauvin[ist]: Pig


Chauvin – Derek: Former police officer on trial, accused of killing George Floyd by   forcefully and fatally kneeling on his neck during arrest.

Chauvinist – One who possesses:

  1. an attitude of superiority towards members of the opposite sex
  2. undue partiality or attachment to a group or place to which one belongs…
  3. excessive or blind patriotism[1]

Pig (slang)

  1. A wild or domesticated swine regardless of age or weight
  2. A dirty, gluttonous, or repulsive person
  3. (Disparaging) – A police officer

As the first week of trial against Derek Chauvin concluded, those who have been watching were privy to even more compelling evidence against him. If the video recording that first captured the 8 minutes and 46 seconds of Chauvin kneeling the life out of George Floyd was not enough to convince anyone about the former officer’s culpability, we learned from newly released footage that this fatal duration was even longer.[2] We also learned from the first witness, a 911 despatcher, Jena Scurry, that she actually thought the particular video feed she was watching had frozen due to the length of time Chauvin was kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.[3] Upon realisation, after receiving confirmation to the contrary, Ms Scurry alerted her supervisor regarding her concerns.[4]

Ensuing questions must include how anyone, after hearing the weight of evidence against Chauvin during the first week alone, can be in any doubt regarding his guilt? If the original video footage was somehow not enough to convince sceptics, surely the evidence provided during trial so far is sufficient to secure a conviction for murder? It may come as a surprise for some; even the most indisputable evidence is not enough to secure a conviction when the perpetrator is white and the victim, black. We only have to refer to the incident relating to Rodney King on 3rd March 1991 who was recorded, on a camcorder at the time (before the advent of smartphones), being brutally beaten by police officers. They only stopped at intervals to catch their breath; such was the duration – and ferocity – of violence meted out on a prone Mr King as he tried to shield himself using his arms.[5] The observations of a juror in the subsequent trial against the officers highlight the extent that racism pervades the perceptions of ordinary citizens, rendering the prospect of a fair trial almost impossible:

[The beating tape] didn’t look good. It looked bad. But it was, as far as I was concerned, it wasn’t against the law. And then I couldn’t convict ’em because to me they were doing what they were supposed to do. And, well, the majority of us felt the same way at the trial.” [6]

The officers were acquitted on that occasion, resulting in widespread anger among black communities – understandably so – leading to 3 days of rioting in LA.[7] They were later convicted in a federal court trial for violating King’s civil rights.[8]Other, more recent examples can be cited: Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, to name but a few. As already intimated above, the miscarriages of justice that ensue after such obvious acts of state-associated violence against black minorities often leads to protests and, on a number of occasions, riots. George Floyd’s very public killing – rather, lynching – is a case in point and, despite black communities being more than familiar with the simmering tensions with law enforcement after atrocities like those mentioned, white communities were only collectively awakened, and horrified by the visibility of his murder.  Due to the Covid19 pandemic, many had their rights curtailed, removing the usual avenues of escapism. What had escaped multitudes for so long – generations in fact – was now being beamed live into their homes, disrupting previously sacrosanct comfort zones:

“Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, captured in witness videos showing then-Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, has led white Americans to call out racism against Black Americans more vigorously than at any moment in recent memory. And it’s prompting many white people to think more deeply about the color of their own skin.” [9]

The mass protests in various cities across the globe began to acknowledge black lives actually matter.

Once upon a time in Brixton, Toxteth, Tottenham…

As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Brixton riots, it is difficult to avoid comparing the climate and circumstances that caused them with today’s mood among black communities a generation later. The recent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report[10] has been severely criticised from many quarters, as being a statutory whitewash. With observations like the following, it is easy to see why:

“Put simply we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities…” [11]

In fact, Boris Johnson’s special adviser on race, Samuel Kasamu, resigned as a result of the report:

“…amid a growing row over a report on racial disparities which concluded that the UK does not have a systemic problem with racism…” [12] 

Lord Woolley was anything but woolly regarding the implications of Kasamu’s resignation:

“The only black special adviser in No 10 has felt that his only recourse to this grubby, divisive Sewell report is to resign. I appointed Samuel to the race disparity advisory group when we first launched. He is a decent man whose energy has been hellbent on serving his country and tackling systemic racism…” [13]

Further exploration behind the compilation of this report will reveal particular authors, characterised by a form of Uncle Tomism[14] or house negroism[15] due to their pandering to governmental requirements to provide a narrative emanating from black communities in an attempt to exonerate an established psychosis of whiteness:

“[Dr Tony] Sewell’s appointment last year was met with dismay by campaigners, who pointed to Sewell’s past attempts to play down the effects of institutional racism and focus instead on placing responsibility on the black British community.” [16]

I was 15 in 1981 when the Brixton riots first erupted and, like many young black men, was unhappy with the police harassment, arrests and assaults that plagued me since the age of 12. Therefore, the riots resonated with me. The mini disturbances that spread in adjoining areas went largely unreported but as far afield as Tooting Broadway, police were placed on alert after high road shops were vandalised. Police cordons at Clapham North and surrounding areas prevented others from entering Brixton.

The area was to witness further disturbances – again serious – 4 years later following a raid on Dorothy ‘Cherry’ Groce’s home when she was shot and paralysed for life after police entered, searching for her son, Michael.[17] Fast forward to 2011 and yet another example of police targeting black minorities can be referenced when Mark Duggan was pursued and shot dead, igniting the largest civil unrest witnessed in a generation on mainland Britain with simultaneous riots breaking out in various cities.[18]

Returning to present day, others will share my pessimism and lack of confidence in the criminal justice system both here in the UK and US.  The outcome of Derek Chauvin’s trial is likely to be another example of whitewashing (literally) – irrespective of the various ethnicities that comprise the jury. Referring once more to the Duggan case, this actually reinforces the existing premise for my cynicism:

 “The Mark Duggan inquest jury has concluded, by an 8-2 majority, that the police shooting which sparked riots across England in 2011 was lawful. But their answers to the particular questions, posed by the coroner in an effort to help them frame their verdict, only open up further ambiguities surrounding police armed response and the legality of lethal force.” [19]

Conclusion: A Question of Faith?

Many prayers have been exhausted, hoping for a change to the status quo regarding black deaths at the hand – or knee – of police. Some may perhaps, begin to seek new interpretations of particular dictates that refer to the more physiological aspects surrounding religious practice. For example, the Bible’s Old Testament, instructs its followers:

“And the pig…it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.”[20]

The Muslim Holy Book, the Quran also commands:

“Allah has forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and the flesh of swine…” [21]

These verses are unambiguous in their reference to dietary prohibitions relating to the 1st definition of pig provided in the glossary at the commencement of this article. However, the question is, would it be remiss to incorporate an additional interpretation when considering the 3rd characterisation of this word insofar as it relates to police? After all, the transient risks of engagement in this instance are more immediate and potentially fatal when considering the track record of the institutions that produce these individuals. Come what may, pigs are bad for our health. Consensus on this would at least be a first step to collectively confronting this disease.



[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chauvinism

[2] Levenson, E: ‘Former officer knelt on George Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds – not the infamous 8:46,’ CNN, 30th March 2021: https://edition.cnn.com/2021/03/29/us/george-floyd-timing-929-846/index.html

[3] The Week: ‘First witness in Chauvin trial testifies she thought camera froze because of how long he kneeled on George Floyd’s neck,’ 29th March 2021: https://theweek.com/speedreads/974556/first-witness-chauvin-trial-testifies-thought-police-camera-froze-because-how-long-kneeled-george-floyds-neck

[4] Ibid

[5] Levin, S: ‘Rodney King: 30 years after brutal beating, activists say LAPD ‘still corrupt and violent,’ The Guardian, 3rd March 2021: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/02/rodney-king-lapd-police-30-years-later

[6] Patria, M & Francis, E: ‘’Let It Fall’: Rodney King juror in his own words,’ ABCNews, 29th April 2017: https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/fall-rodney-king-juror-words/story?id=46712060

[7] This Day in History, 29th April 1992: ‘Rodney King trial verdict announced,’ History: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rodney-king-trial-verdict-announced [accessed 4th April 2021]

[8] Ibid

[9] Beason, T: ‘’Something is not right.’ George Floyd protests push white Americans to think about their privilege,’ LA Times, 28th June 2020: https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-06-28/white-voters-racism-reckoning-george-floyd-killing

[10] Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities: The Report, March 2021: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/974507/20210331_-_CRED_Report_-_FINAL_-_Web_Accessible.pdf

[11] BBC News: ‘Race Report: What are the key Points?’ 1st March 2021: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-56595004

[12] Syal, R: ‘No. 10 race adviser Samuel Kasumu resigns,’ The Guardian, 1st April 2021: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/01/no-10-race-adviser-resigns-day-after-uk-structural-racism-report-published

[13] Ibid

[14] Uncle Tomism: ‘A pattern of social behaviour characterized by a willingly submissive attitude on the part of the Black participants in a given interaction and a benevolent but patronizing attitude on the part of white participants,’ Dictionary. Com: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/uncle-tomism

[15] House Negroism: ‘In their need for proximity to whiteness, the individual loses touch with his/her blackness…For this individual their interests lie rather in his/her own personal mission for individual upward mobility into white spaces, and this process largely involves trading off his/her blackness for entry into white society. In their quest for this ‘social status’, they can no longer identity themselves with the collective plight of the black man. The white man rather has become their central point of interest, subconsciously taking the form of the “master”, from whom acceptance and approval is greatly sought. The identity of the individual, also known as the House Negro, now lies at the mercy of white supremacy.’ https://izwelethublog.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/psychology-of-the-modern-day-house-negro/

[16] Thomas, T & Mohdin, A: ‘Racial disparities in the UK: the people who compiled the report,’ The Guardian, 31st March 2021: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/31/racial-disparities-in-the-uk-the-people-who-compiled-the-report

[17] Wikipedia: 1985 Brixton Riot, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1985_Brixton_riot

[18] Topham, L; Domokos J & Khalil, M: ‘England’s riots five years on: ‘It was off the scale,’ The Guardian, 5th August 2016: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/aug/05/englands-riots-five-years-on-it-was-off-the-scale-video

[19] The Conversation: ‘Mark Duggan lawful killing verdict leaves questions over police use of lethal force,’ 9th January 2014: https://theconversation.com/mark-duggan-lawful-killing-verdict-leaves-questions-over-police-use-of-lethal-force-21697

[20] The Bible, Old Testament, Leviticus, verses 7-8

[21] The Holy Quran, Chapter, The Bee, verse 115

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