Last summer, I wrote in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent worldwide protests that came forward. The post titled #Enough pt. 1 is still saved at the top of my blog because the message of racial justice and police reform still rings true. Today, April 20, 2021 as first reported by the AP former Minneapolis officer Derick Chauvin, the man who murdered Mr. Floyd, was found guilty on counts of second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. Sentencing starts in two months and he could face 40 years in prison.
My immediate response is relief. Then reflection. Then focused determination. I don’t want to take too long but allow me to explain: Since 2015 I have seen men and women walk away scot free when they’ve been accused of killing black and brown people. I know about cases like Emmitt Till, and Tamir Rice where the victims were young boys and in both cases their murderers walked. I have grown accustomed to the American Justice System to casting aside black and brown victims, specifically when their killers are white men. So to have this case where Chauvin was found guilty, is a sense of relief. My anxiety for that hour or so was high, and I intentionally stayed glued to my phone in order to have the news.
But then reflection set in, why was I so happy? Is this really just going to hold me over until the next tragedy involving a crooked cop (I loathe the term bad apple) and a black citizen? What was I celebrating? That the justice system that was designed at the genesis of this country worked in favor of citizens that were not supposed to be here? That a man who was caught doing something illegal was held accountable for his actions? Realizing that this system has allowed people guilty of worse walk free. Realizing that former officer Chauvin is now looking 40 years in prison down the barrel. Realizing that despite the verdict and outrage, there is still hurting in so many communities around the country and the cries for justice, for all citizens still needs to ring out. I thought to myself: “it’s a start”.
And now the focused determination! There are countless cases of black and brown citizens falling victims to police brutality in this country. There was a step in the right direction with Chauvin’s case, but there needs to be more. There needs to be more conversations about the racial discrimination that exists in this country. There needs to be more talks about de-escalation techniques. There needs to be more talks about the racist origins of the police. There needs to be more talk about why black and brown bodies are policed more and harder than whites. Among others, there needs to be talk about how do we prevent these crooked cops from ever stepping foot inside a precinct, again. The rallying call of Black Lives Matter is not a political position, but the very idea that my existence, the existence of people who look like me matters and we are not a threat just because our skin is different from yours. So I am committing myself to more education, more activism more speaking out, more marching, more reading, more listening and more being a voice for those who have been muted by systemic issues within our country.
Yes it is a relief that Chauvin was found guilty, but this is just the beginning. We need reform in this country, and it starts by lifting your voice.