We are still in the midst of a mass uprising against racist police violence. The uprising, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, is now increasingly calling to defund and abolish the police. It took days of national mobilization for all four of Floyd’s killers to be arrested: Derek Chauvin, the white cop who pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, the two cops, who held Floyd down, and one who acted as a lookout.
Among them is 37-year-old former police officer, Thomas Lane, who was released on $750,000 bail after he crowdfunded the money. The PayPal account argued that the bail amount was set too high and that Lane “did everything he could” to save Floyd’s life. In reality, however, he too was holding Floyd down, effectively helping Chauvin asphyxiate Floyd.
Lane had been in jail for a week on charges, brought by the Minnesota state attorney general, that claim he assisted and incited Chauvin during the nine minutes he pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck while he gasped “I can’t breathe.” He and the two other police officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and of second-degree manslaughter.
Lane’s lawyer, Earl Gray, said his client should be released because he was following Chauvin’s orders. “He was doing what he thought was right,” Gray told the Today show. “He did not stand by and watch. He was holding the legs because the guy was resisting at first.” Gray wants to argue that as a rookie cop, Lane didn’t know better. But rookie or not, Lane is responsible for murder.
Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng, remain in prison and could be released if they pay $750,000 bail. For Chauvin, bail is set at $1.25 million.
Lane’s attorney’s arguments might be accepted by a judge or jury, given the history of impunity for cops. As the “Mapping Police Violence” website shows, only 1 percent of the police involved in these murders and shootings are found guilty.
This is why police impunity, the repressive state apparatus that serves the ruling class, is what ensures that these murders continue to happen freely.