From the Editors

The Derek Chauvin trial held one bad-apple cop accountable

But what about the rest of the barrel?

In the trial of Derek Chauvin, the prosecution’s witnesses included several police officers, from peers of George Floyd’s killer to upper brass. Their testimony against Chauvin, in a trial that resulted in a guilty verdict on murder charges, may indicate some loose bricks in the blue wall of silence that has so often protected cops from what other cops know about them.

But in testifying against Chauvin, these officers also created a narrative in which he and his crime are distant from them and their work. Are there broader problems with policing in Minneapolis? No doubt these officers’ views on that question vary. But this trial was narrowly about keeping one cop accountable to existing expectations, such as they are.

This is a fine strategy for getting a jury to convict an officer for a single, egregious act. But it avoids the larger problems policing poses to Black Americans and other people of color. It takes as given that Chauvin was an isolated actor—what is often called a bad apple.