I woke up this morning actually having had a full nights sleep, an unusual occurance as of late. Around 10 AM, got a Facebook notification that Unicorn Riot was live with coverage of Kim Potter's sentencing. To refresh your memory, she's the white police officer who shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright while shouting "taser, taser, taser!" during the Derek Chauvin trial last April. She was already found guilty of first-degree manslaughter by a jury; she waived a jury decision for her sentencing, opting to put her fate into the hands of Judge Regina Chu.
The sentencing took about two hours. We heard heartbreaking testimonies from his mother, father, older brother, younger sister, and the mother of his child. His parents lost a child, his younger siblings will grow to be older than him, and his son will come to know his dad only through the stories told by others. It was truly heartbreaking to watch. Then Potter's defense counsel spoke, for entirely too long, trying to relitigate the case. He brought up her Catholic virtues (idk bro, I thought the whole "thou shalt not kill" was a vibe, guess not?) and then just started reading letters people had written to her. It was completely irrelevant and felt gross, honestly. They were desperately trying to paint her as the victim who had done nothing wrong in her life until that day. Then Kim herself spoke, crying her white woman tears again, apologizing to the family with her face away from the camera.
It worked. The judge granted a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines. Kim Potter will have to serve two-thirds of her 24 month sentence, and gets credit for the 50 some odd days she's already served. Judge Chu spoke on how we should empathize with Kim Potter, and had the audacity to quote Barack Obama. Incredulously, the judge was crying while reading her decision. She mentioned the four purposes of punishment, noting that prison would only serve one in this case. It would not serve deterrence, as this is a first offense and not one likely to be repeated. It would not serve rehabilitation, as prison never rehabilitates anyone. It would not serve retribution, as there is no way to bring daunte back. It would only serve incapacitation by removing her from society.
Now, I don't like prisons. They are especially cruel and ineffective in the United States. By and large, the prison system should be abolished. That said, in the current system we have, Potter belongs in prison for the maxium sentence. We need to send a message that cops cannot accidentally shoot people and be free in two years. In another system, I still think she shouldd be removed from the community for a time, but she could also be given help for her PTSD and work with commnity members to understand their struggles and actually be ableto give back. There is nothing that will bring Daunte back, but there are better systems of justice. Two years is not enough.
There's a song by Anti-Flag that is now 20 years old, "Mumia's Song", with the lyrics "no justice, no peace, no racist police", and I wish it would stop being relevant. I decided to listen to the album it's on, Mobilize, on my drive to work this morning. There happened to be some roadwork going on, so there cops controlling traffic. I may have turned the volume up as I waited my turn. No justice, no peace, no racist police! Justice for Daunte Wright!