Benjamin Crump has turned racial strife and tragedy into another monster payday for himself and George Floyd’s family. In a Friday afternoon press conference, Mr. Crump announced that Minneapolis would pay $27 million to settle the civil suit Crump brought on behalf of the Floyd family. His announcement was replete with hosannas for the elected officials who opened up the city’s coffers for the slow-talking attorney and his client. In what may have been part of the settlement, Crump denounced violence and told the assembled that Mr. Floyd eschewed violence in the Michael Brown protests, and so should they, regarding Floyd’s death.
Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial is underway just this week, as jury selection has begun. This settlement is international news and will surely make finding impartial jurors even more difficult. So, why now? If you are a politician, especially a Democratic Party politician, one of the most potent allies is the Black Lives Matter type. With the ability to declare certain people racist and essentially cancel their chances at re-election, never mind higher office, a BLM/Crump certification of wokeness cannot be underestimated. That blue-check is undoubtedly worth more than $27 million taxpayer dollars. Why not? There’s more where that came from.
When you consider how all the plaudits will be cut and replayed, it’s as good as a license to spend taxpayer dollars on an election ad. That, of course, would be wildly illegal. If you give the money to Crump, and he does it, however, well, that’s just free speech. Less cynically (mostly) is that the payoff could be to secure Crump’s anti-violence announcement. Surely wild protests would cost the community a massive amount and might still lose if the civil case went to a jury.
Ask Me No Questions…
With great tragedy, we heard from Mr. Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd, who spoke in absolute agony about his loss and said – with sincerity – that he would surrender any money to see his return. But before that, after the lawyers, were the politicians.
Councilman Phillipe Cunningham twice declined to answer questions because doing so would somehow be disrespectful to Mr. Floyd’s family. In the first instance, it appeared that it was an off-topic question from the Floyd settlement’s direct issue and therefore was somehow disrespectful to the families. In the second instance, the disrespect came simply from keeping the families from staying there any longer for the duration it would require to answer a simple question. Cunningham admonished: “There is travel involved.” The message was clear, just plaudits, please and thank you. Well, they did pay all that money for this special moment, so it’s hard to blame him for that attitude.
Mr. Crump was previously known for scoring seven-figure payouts in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases. While not all his clients, or sadly, their deceased relations, were criminals who died while committing felonies, that’s his stock-in-trade. Mr. Martin was a troubled teen killed while committing aggravated assault, and Mr. Brown assaulted a police officer just after a strong-arm robbery. With allies throughout the media, Crump turned these perps into martyrs to the cause of poor treatment of blacks at the police’s hands.
You Ruined It!
The Crump team managed Friday to sully a joyous moment from the settlement announcement. The Floyd family arranged to donate $500,000 to better the Minneapolis neighborhood where George Floyd lived and died. That meaningful donation was degraded when a Crump team member demanded that Minnesota corporations match the gift and threatened them if they didn’t.
There’s another way to look at the settlement that could benefit Mr. Chauvin. Given the Floyd family has been paid handsomely, and Crump has asked for peace, it’s arguable that the pressure to convict Chauvin of murder has been reduced. If the palpable but difficult to articulate energy present in Minneapolis – an energy on the verge of boiling over into more destruction – is dissipated, that may benefit the defendant.
This week, Chauvin’s defense team revealed that Mr. Floyd consumed fentanyl and methamphetamine while being arrested. The state was also allowed to add 3rd degree murder charges against the defendant. Opening statements are scheduled to start on March 29, and the trial is set to last some four weeks.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.