Andrea Cabral nearly opted out of her weekly segment on Boston Public Radio because of the ongoing the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the former Suffolk County sheriff said Thursday.
"It is that difficult, not to feel what I feel, but to try to articulate in a relatively dispassionate way," she said.
"The degree of trauma that it presents for a Black person to talk about this in any way other than just simply letting out a primal scream, I think, is not fully understood," Cabral added. "It’s also the weight of history that comes with it ... the weight of lynching and the role that police have played in those things all throughout history ... It’s just very difficult to have the kinds of conversations I usually have with you guys about cases."
Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter over the death of George Floyd in May 2020. Footage of the former officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes prompted a global outcry and mass protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
In testimony that began Monday, jurors have so far heard from 13 witnesses, including a 911 dispatcher, an off-duty firefighter who attempted to offer Floyd medical support and a teenage girl whose filmed the incident, amplifying it onto the national stage.
"Had it not been filmed, you would have far more people making the argument of, ‘Oh, he must’ve been resisting,'" Cabral said. "Part of that comes from the inherent credibility that police officers have — a presumptive credibility, even when they’re not entitled to it."
While reflecting on the decades of racist abuse perpetrated by police officers against Black Americans, Cabral said that it's been difficult to watch Chauvin's defense work towards their case that the knee pinned to George Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds wasn't the cause of his death.
"The issue still, with video, is whether or not people will believe what’s in front of them," she said. "Because the defense is getting ready to argue that they shouldn’t believe their lying eyes."
There's an expectation that Chauvin might be convicted on at least one of the three charges against him, but Cabral struck a cautious note.
"Everybody thought the same thing with Rodney King," she said.
Cabral is the former sheriff of Suffolk County and the former Massachusetts secretary of public safety. She is currently CEO of the cannabis company Ascend.