Sowing a deadly seed

The George Floyd murder trial has come to a close. The jury is deliberating the verdict on accused former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who is on video holding his knee on Floyd’s neck as he died. Our nation changed dramatically since that video became public. There are those who are deeply troubled by what they saw and want change; those who are angry, saying this is the very oppression they face on a daily basis; there are those who seek to excuse the officer’s actions. The verdict—no matter what it is—will evoke tremendous emotion across the country. Notwithstanding, there are those who are already trying to stir violence. One of them is Congresswoman Maxine Waters, (D-CA).

Waters addressed reporters about the verdict while she attended a protest in Brooklyn Center, near Minneapolis, of another police shooting of an unarmed black man. Waters encouraged violence in the streets if the Chauvin jury didn’t return a guilty verdict. She said, “We’re looking for a guilty verdict. And we’re looking to see if all of the talk that took place and has been taking place after they saw what happened to George Floyd, if nothing does not happen, then we know that we’ve got to not only stay in the street, but we’ve got to fight for justice.” In June 2018, she also encouraged people to harass members of the Trump administration by not allowing them to eat at restaurants, buy gasoline, or shop at department stores. Waters, while encouraging violence on Saturday, also condemned Republicans for the violence against the Capitol on January 6.

Waters says that a manslaughter conviction against Chauvin is not enough, that it must be a murder conviction or people should take to the streets. Herein, is why our legal system takes steps to isolate jurors in deliberation. The political and personal pressures may sway an otherwise just verdict. As someone who has sat as a jury foreman on a murder trial, I know first-hand the gravity of verdicts. In the back of a juror’s mind is the lingering specter of personal danger irrespective of the verdict. And, often, because of specific state laws governing the degrees of murder and manslaughter, jurors may not have control over in which category a guilty verdict falls. Intent, premeditation, motive, negligence, all have a bearing, depending on the laws of the state.

Waters, who accused President Trump of dog-whistling violence on Capitol Hill, is doing the very same thing in Minneapolis. She is signaling that nothing less than a guilty-of-murder verdict serves justice and people should take to the streets. Waters has often invoked God in her dog-whistling. She said in July 2018, while encouraging harassment, that God is on her side. She also said that she was sent by God to “get Trump.” Her words inflame problems, not solve them. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Waters’ statements mock God. While claiming God, she sows hate, deception, and division—all against the precepts of God, which simply put are to love your neighbor as yourself and treat others as you would want to be treated. Waters is sowing a deadly seed.

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Bill Wilson