Before I heard that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder and manslaughter, I was sitting in front of my computer, waiting for about a half-hour. My wife was downstairs in front of the TV, likewise waiting. I’m sure my daughter was doing the same on her phone.
When I heard the news, I felt a little numb, to be honest. No fist pump. But I did exhale, as though I had been holding my breath. Maybe, unconsciously, I was.
Though I only watched bits and pieces of the trial, I felt distraught, primarily over the re-traumatization of the people who watched George Floyd die, afraid to interfere with four cops on the scene. And I was infuriated when the defense suggested that the gathering was a “distraction” to Chauvin.
To be honest, I decided that he’d be found guilty of the manslaughter charge. But finding a cop guilty of murder? Certainly, the prosecution made the case.
But this got me wondering what it means for the future. This was a case featuring about three dozen prosecution witnesses, including several police officers.
A change is gonna come?
I keep hearing this case is an “inflection point.” What the heck does that mean? “An event that results in a significant change in the progress of a company, industry, sector, economy, or geopolitical situation and can be considered a turning point after which a dramatic change, with either positive or negative results, is expected to result.”
So does this signal real change? Or is it a one-off, involving an act so egregious, and seen so widely, that the jury HAD to convict? And just wait for the appeals after sentencing. The alternate juror, speaking to CBS News, acknowledged that, at least in her mind, the violence from last summer, and the potential for more, was on her mind. Undoubtedly, Maxine Waters’ ill-timed remarks, made before the jury was sequestered, will surely be introduced as well.
I suppose I should appreciate the conviction as perhaps a small gain for police accountability. Still, as one advocate said, there are “no victories today,” for “justice would mean George Floyd is still with us.”
Nearly 29 years ago to the day, the streets of Los Angeles were filled with people rioting after the police officers who beat Rodney King were found not guilty.
The litany of unarmed black citizens injured or killed at the hand of police officers who were acquitted or never charged, just since then, is staggering. Do I need to repeat it?
Moreover, the verdict doesn’t erase the fear that “many of us, particularly Black people, have of interacting with police.” Put another way, being black isn’t exhausting; racism is exhausting.
The verdict is in. The work continues.
Change the trajectory
Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian wrote this: “Until we find collective solutions, until we admit and grapple with our tortured racial history, we will continue to suffer the effects of this pernicious malignance consuming the soul of the nation. Now is not the time to shrink from the task, though, nor is it the time to give in to cynicism.
“It is the time to join with all who believe in the promise of America. It is the time to say, “we can be better than this.” It is time to redouble our efforts to build a more perfect union. Justice is so beautiful when it is applied fairly.”