We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Derek Chauvin is convicted of murder, and DOJ begins investigation of Minneapolis Police Department
On Tuesday afternoon, the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin came to a decision. Concluding a trial that lasted more than a month, the jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts: second-degree manslaughter, second-degree murder, and third-degree murder. Last May, the Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd for more than nine minutes, leading to his death and igniting protests against racism and police brutality across the country and the world.
Prior to the decision, politicians from California Democrat Representative Maxine Waters to President Joe Biden weighed in on the trial. “We’re looking for a guilty verdict,” Waters said over the weekend. Without a guilty verdict, “We’ve got to get more active. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.” Republican lawmakers, who interpreted Waters’ comments as a call to violence, urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to censure Waters, which she said was unnecessary after Waters clarified, “I am nonviolent.”
Biden, just hours before the verdict was reached, said he was praying for the “right verdict” in the trial, adding, “It is overwhelming in my view.” After the verdict was announced, Biden said in a speech, “It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism the Vice President just referred to—the systemic racism that is a stain our nation’s soul; the knee on the neck of justice for Black Americans; the profound fear and trauma, the pain, the exhaustion that Black and brown Americans experience every single day.”
In two months, a judge will determine Chauvin’s sentence, which could range from 11 to 40 years in prison. It is possible that Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, could appeal the verdict. On Monday, he requested a mistrial based on Waters’ comments. The judge denied it, but said that the comments could give Nelson grounds for an appeal.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department is investigating the Minneapolis Police Department to prevent another death like Floyd’s. “Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Wednesday. According to the StarTribune, the investigation will seek to determine if the police force “engages in a ‘pattern and practice’ of illegal conduct, including whether officers used excessive force during protests.” —Madeline Fry Schultz
Chad’s president is killed in clash with insurgents
Chad’s long-standing leader, President Idriss Deby, died this week from injuries sustained in a battle with rebels. CNN reported that Deby had been visiting troops on the front lines of the fight against FACT, (Front for Change and Concord in Chad). He was apparently wounded when rebel soldiers overran a military garrison.
Deby, who had governed Chad for 30 years, was a key Western ally in the region and a source of stability. His death threatens to destabilize the region and Chad’s fragile democracy. The U.S. embassy instructed Americans to leave the country via commercial flight as soon as possible.
A transitional military council has assumed power and appointed Deby’s son, General Mahamat Kaka, as council president, a move that immediately raised hackles. Chad’s constitution does not include hereditary monarchy. Although Deby was democratically elected, he had grown more authoritarian over his years in power and his victory in the most recent election was somewhat of a foregone conclusion.
It remains to be seen how Deby’s death will affect regional issues, like the struggle against militant group Boko Haram, to which he had committed significant resources. —Margaret Brady
New Downton and Persuasion movies are on the way
Period drama fans, rejoice! This week it was revealed that a new Downton Abbey film is in the works, and that a Netflix-funded adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion is on its way.
The “Downton” sequel will be hitting theaters—real, live theaters—on December 22 this year. Merry Christmas to us! The principal cast will be back, including Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary. Production reportedly began on the movie last week. The previous Downton movie made more than $190 million on a budget of $20 million—proof there’s pent-up demand for non-superhero fare.
Meanwhile, Jane Austen is coming to Netflix. The streamer’s adaptation of Persuasion will feature Dakota Johnson as Anne Wentworth, a young woman who is still pining for the man whose proposal she erroneously rejected. It will reportedly be a “modern, witty” take on the classic novel. Netflix’s Anne will have some competition: a theatrical version of Persuasion starring Sarah Snook is also underway and the dueling films will likely hit screens around the same time. I’m not complaining: There’s no such thing as too much Jane. —MB
Planned Parenthood attempts to disavow founder’s racist roots
On Sunday, the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Alexis McGill Johnson, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that attempted to “reckon with Margaret Sanger’s association with white supremacist groups and eugenics.” “Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions,” McGill Johnson wrote.
Johnson acknowledged that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, spoke to the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey about birth control. She also acknowledged Sanger’s endorsement of the Supreme Court’s Buck v. Bell ruling that allowed states to sterilize people deemed “unfit” without their consent. Further, in a letter to Clarence Gable in 1939, Sanger wrote, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the negro population.
“We will no longer make excuses or apologize for Margaret Sanger’s actions,” Johnson wrote. “But we can’t simply call her racist, scrub her from our history, and move on. We must examine how we have perpetuated her harms over the last century—as an organization, an institution, and as individuals.”
However, McGill Johnson failed to acknowledge how, according to 2010 Census data, about 80 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are located in minority communities, and how, in 2012, more black babies were aborted than born alive in New York City, where Planned Parenthood is headquartered. Acknowledging the harm Planned Parenthood has caused against Black people is a good start. But if McGill Johnson was serious about making real changes, she would acknowledge these inconvenient truths as well. —MW
A Black teen girl in Columbus dies as police officer responds to knife attack
In a story that’s receiving new attention for the Black Lives Matter cause, a police officer fatally shot a teenager who was attacking two people with a knife on Tuesday. The Interim Chief of the Columbus Police Department identified the police officer, Nicholas Reardon, who shot Ma’Kiyah Bryant, 16, while the teenager attempted to stab two people. Body camera footage showed Woods shouting “get down, get down” before opening fire on Bryant four times.
As bystanders yelled at Reardon for shooting, he replied, “she had a knife.” Officers attended to Bryant where she was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead.
“She was a child,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “We’re thinking of her friends and family and the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss.” —Melanie Wilcox
Two female directors are nominated for Oscars this year
The 93rd Academy Awards take place this Sunday evening. It will be the first Oscars ceremony since 2020’s dismal viewership, with ratings reaching a historic low. Still, despite waning interest, there is good news coming out of Oscar buzz: for the first time in cinematic history, two female directors have been nominated for Best Director. Chloe Zhao, a Chinese-born film director, screenwriter, and producer, has been heralded as “the Chinese director reinventing U.S. cinema” and is receiving accolades for her film Nomadland, starring a wearied Frances McDormand as a widow who sets out to travel the United States on her own.
Emerald, Fennell, meanwhile, is an English actress, writer, film director, and producer and no stranger to Hollywood, having worked as a writer on various well-received programs and as a children’s book author. Her dark comedy Promising Young Woman, shares a story of a med-school dropout (played by Carey Mulligan) who’s out to avenge the rape and death of her best friend. “It’s gratifying to see a number of female filmmakers as awards frontrunners and at the helm of the biggest-budget projects moving forward,” said Fandango correspondent Nikki Novak. —Mariel Lindsay
Good News of the Week
Dogecoin donor pays doggie adoption fees at shelter
Apparently, a woman who netted a hefty profit on her dogecoin cryptocurrency investment used the money to pay the adoption fees for all 21 dogs at the shelter who were ready for adoption—about $1,000 total. The generous donor signed her name, Dogecoin Community. She told shelter officials that dogecoin “changed her life” and she wanted to pay it forward.
The donation came at just the right time, because the Humane Society had just rescued dozens of pups from a dogfighting ring and were running out of space. Many adopters whose fees were paid chose to make a donation to the shelter too.
If you’ll permit me: Much unselfish. So kind human. Wow! —MB
Watch of the Week
Carrie Underwood and CeCe Winans deliver a stirring and stunning Gospel medley at the 56th American Country Music Awards last week.