Ibram X. Kendi Says Derek Chauvin Trial Using 'Same Old Racist Defense'

Author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi has said the "same old racist defense" for police violence against Black men is being used in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

His trial got underway on Monday, with attorneys for the prosecution and defense making their opening statements.

The prosecution began their case by playing part of the video captured by a bystander the showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes on May 25 last year. That footage set off protests against police brutality and racial injustice that quickly spread from Minneapolis to the rest of the country and beyond.

Defense attorney for Derek Chauvin: "You will see that three Minneapolis officers can not overcome the strength of Floyd."

Yes, we will see the same old racist defense for police violence: the big, bad Black man who resisted arrest and caused his own death. #DerekChauvinTrial

— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) March 29, 2021

When it came to his turn, Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson countered by saying his client "did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career."

He also said that jurors would see that "three Minneapolis police officers could not overcome the strength of Mr. Floyd."

In a tweet on Monday, Kendi, the author of How to Be an Antiracist, quoted that comment, adding that it was an indication that the "same old racist defense for police violence" would be used to defend Chauvin's actions.

"Defense attorney for Derek Chauvin: 'You will see that three Minneapolis officers can not overcome the strength of Floyd,'" Kendi tweeted.

"Yes, we will see the same old racist defense for police violence: the big, bad Black man who resisted arrest and caused his own death."

Ofcr Stacey Koons who relentlessly beat Black motorist Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991 insisted that King seemed to him like "a Tasmanian Devil." https://t.co/NA9e1UhzjL

— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) March 29, 2021

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, shared the tweet and drew parallels to testimony about Rodney King, a Black man who was beaten by four Los Angeles police officers in 1991.

"Ofcr Stacey [Koon] who relentlessly beat Black motorist Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991 insisted that King seemed to him like 'a Tasmanian Devil,'" Ifill wrote.

Kendi, who is the founder and director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, also criticized Nelson's assertion that a growing crowd of bystanders had distracted the officers.

In the widely seen video of Floyd's arrest, bystanders can be heard urging Chauvin and the other former officers detaining Floyd to get off him.

In his opening statement, Nelson referenced some of the names the officers were called, adding that "as the crowd grew in size, seemingly so too did their anger."

He added: "They're screaming at them, causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them."

One of the most outrageous things that the defense attorney for #DerekChauvin said is that the growing crowd caused "the officers to diversity their attention from the care of Floyd." He used the word *care.* Handcuffed, knee on the neck, suffocating. He called that *care.*

— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) March 29, 2021

Kendi particularly criticized Nelson's use of the word "care."

"One of the most outrageous things that the defense attorney for #DerekChauvin said is that the growing crowd caused 'the officers to [divert] their attention from the care of Floyd,'" he wrote.

"He used the word *care.* Handcuffed, knee on the neck, suffocating. He called that *care.*"

Kendi has been contacted for additional comment.

Activists demonstrate outside Hennepin County Government Center
Activists demonstrate near the Hennepin County Government Center following the start of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on March 29, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Scott Olson/Getty Images