On the 1st Anniversary of George Floyd’s Murder

Photo from Exhibit 17 from Derek Chauvin’s trial was a still-frame image of the police officer glaring at onlookers while his knees rested on George Floyd’s throat. What was Chauvin’s facial expression saying? The answer is both anger (tense lower right eyelid, wide open right eye and lowered eyebrows) as well as fear (eyebrows raised, creating a large wrinkle across Chauvin’s forehead) and Disgust  (curled upper lip and protruding lower lip)

This week marks the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death under the knee of Derek Chauvin. Much has been written about that tragedy, including an article a month ago by John Blake of CNN.

The thrust of Blake’s article—about the harm that indifference to injustice causes—I agree with. As an expert in analyzing facial expressions, however, I couldn’t disagree more with how Blake describes the look on Chauvin’s face as being “one of bored disinterest,” with the “only flicker of emotion” being “annoyance at the crowd” gathered to plead for Floyd’s life. This still-frame image (Exhibit 17 in Chauvin’s trial) actually tells a far different story. There isn’t just annoyance on display; there’s very real anger in how strongly Chauvin is glaring at the crowd. There’s fear, too, as at some level Chauvin must have known that having video bear witness to what was transpiring could put him in legal jeopardy. 

Finally, there’s a hint of a third emotion as well, namely disgust given how Chauvin’s upper lip curls a bit while the lower lip pushes down slightly. Disgust with the victim his knee is suffocating? Disgust with the crowd? With the idea that anybody would dare contest a policeman’s actions? Who’s to say. Disgust is an emotion Chauvin certainly won’t own up to as he appeals a guilty verdict as it would reveal a repugnance for the very people he was sworn to protect and serve.

What inspired you to write the book?

Released today: episode #55 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” on the New Books Network. The episode features Carla Diana, the author of My Robot Gets Me: How Social Design Can Make New Products More HumanClick here to get to the new episode.

Carla Diana is a robot designer responsible for the creative aspects of Diligent Robotics’ new hospital service robot named Moxi. She created and leads the 4D Design masters program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, wrote the world’s first children’s book on 3D printing, Leo the Maker Prince, and she cohosts the Robopsych Podcast.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Image of New Books network and Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast logo

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.