Home / General / The rapid rise of George Floyd conspiracy theories on the MAGA right

The rapid rise of George Floyd conspiracy theories on the MAGA right

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I had no idea how much traction the idea that Derek Chauvin was wrongly convicted had gotten, althoiugh I shouldn’t be surprised, and of course Bari Weiss embraces every nonsensical authoritarian Republican tall tale to come down the pike, so:

Tucker Carlson, uninhibited by any intellectually honest grasp of U.S. history, proclaimed that Chauvin was about to be “lynched.”

These defenses of Chauvin continued sporadically, then got a boost in August 2022 when Liz Collin, a Minneapolis TV reporter and the wife of infamous Minneapolis police union leader Bob Kroll, self-published the book They’re Lying: The Media, The Left, and The Death of George Floyd. Collin had been a longtime anchor for the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis. Both she and Kroll were targeted by activists after Floyd’s death, including protests outside their home. Collin left the station in January 2022. Depending on who you believe, she was either forced out or resigned after she was removed from the anchor position. She then joined a conservative-funded outlet called Alpha News.

Collin’s book provided further fuel for far-right bomb throwers and conspiracy theorists, but her allegations didn’t really take off until she, Alpha News, and a former police officer named J.C. Chaix made The Fall of Minneapolis, a crowd-sourced documentary based on the book.

TFOM makes some nutty claims, including that the FBI ordered George Floyd’s autopsy to be altered to incriminate Chauvin, an allegation that echoes the contempt southern coroners had for FBI investigators looking into lynchings and the murder of activists during the civil rights era. Collin also interviews Chauvin, Chauvin’s mother, Chauvin’s lawyer, and a half dozen or so current and former Minneapolis police officers who still support Chauvin

By last October, far-right white grievance mongers like Carlson had been amplifying Collin for months. Carlson dedicated portions of his show — which by then was hosted on X — to pushing the documentary and its allegations. Those episodes were then touted by Elon Musk and the tech-bro social media ecosystem until it eventually wound up on the Facebook page of every racist uncle in America.

The documentary has inspired some inflammatory rhetoric. Where there was once agreement among most conservatives that Derek Chauvin was a rogue cop whose murder of George Floyd was witnessed by a good chunk of humanity, for much of the right, Chauvin is now a political prisoner who has been framed by craven state and federal officials who caved to the social justice mobs. A poll taken after the verdict found that nearly half of Republicans thought Chauvin should have been acquitted.

By the end of last year, the documentary had been amplified by more mainstream conservatives. Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly touted her interview with Chaix and Collins by claiming to have “new” body camera footage that would “change the narrative.” The footage had been publicly available for more than two years.

The documentary has since been promoted by the New York Post, on the podcast hosted by John McWhorter and Glenn Loury, and by “heterodox” voices like Brett Weinstein.

The latest outlet to run with these claims is the Free Press, founded by former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss, in a piece by Coleman Hughes.

Balko has a comprehensively detailed demonstration that this conspiracy theory is pernicious nonsense that starts in this post and continues here, here, and here. The extensive documentation of the history of racism and abuse in the MPD in the last post is particularly useful.

Meanwhile, Weiss has de facto conceded with the favorite tactic of reactionary bullshit artists, “debate me [on my own for-profit podcast], bro.”

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