Last week the whole world watched patiently as the death of George Floyd was finally brought to justice. Tuesday 20th April announced the guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin on all three counts. Chauvin was convicted of second-and third-degree murder, along with the second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd. "I can't breathe, I can't breathe." At only 46-years-old Floyd these were the last words spoken as he died beneath the knee of the Minneapolis police officer; as a father and a son and a brother. But his death will live on as a reminder for the African American community, for anyone of a different race, that there is justice for all. It is a truly pivotal moment in history.
For Floyd’s family, the returned verdict offers long-awaited accountability for the savage murder of their loved one; though nothing will ever bring George back. For the Black community in the United States, it offers hope and possibility that after centuries of fighting against police brutality and systemic racism, we may finally be witnessing the beginning of reform and equal protection under the law. For the Black community, it could be an opportunity to deliver racial equity in the United States not only for the justice system but for better housing, education and equal pay. For the rest of the world, this is a moment for us all where we see get to watch humanity champion over inhumanity, justice over injustice, and equality over inequality. There is hope for people everywhere who suffer at the hands of systemic racism. There is hope for humanity. Tuesday’s verdict paved the way for a new humanity and history, but "our work is far from over" as POTUS Joe Biden has stated.
The guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was historic. Chauvin, in fact, was the first white police officer ever to be held accountable for murdering a Black person in the state of Minnesota. But soon after this moment of victory, Minneapolis has recently mourned the loss of another black man killed by the police. Not far from the location of Floyd's death and less than a year later, police shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright; another innocent Black man has been tragically lost at the hands of white hands. Another shooting, another name and another grieving family. Wright was tragically shot dead at a traffic stop by an officer, who reportedly believed she was firing her taser and not her gun. As a result, she has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and a federal inquiry into Minneapolis police has been launched. Minneapolis in mourning, another racially-biased officer potentially convicted, so what is next for the United States in bringing justice back to all its people?
As POTUS Joe Biden recalls, the only reason why Chauvin has been handcuffed was because of extraordinary evidence. People saw, people filmed the officers, people called the police as Floyd begged for breath to return to his lungs. Last May, a 17-year-old girl captured the savage murder which then went viral. Because of her, the world watched agonizingly as Chauvin’s knee continuously choked Floyd to death, despite his inability to breathe. If it weren't for her video or the witnesses who bravely gave testimonies, then there may have not been accountability for the death of Floyd. Video footage and traumatized testimonies. Does only being captured on camera warrant a guilty verdict? What about the police interactions that aren't?
It seems that the American justice system needs video footage and a thousand testimonies to get a just verdict for Black men and women, but what about the vandalism that targets these communities? That's evidence too which should be used to convict. Last week, on the spectacular mural designed to commemorate Floyd, someone insensitively and racistly wrote "N-word lives don't matter." But anyone that doesn't believe in Black Lives Matter, doesn't matter. Because they do. They really do. And anyone that doesn't believe in Black Lives Matter that acts like Chauvin or does or says anything, absolutely anything needs to be punished by the law. The American legal system cannot just stop at unlawful Black shootings, it needs to keep going until complete equality is achieved. I hope for the sake of the safety of Black communities in America, that this outcome will come soon.
America has a long history of systemic racism with black men and women treated as less than humans, but Floyd is a symbol of humanity being reclaimed. Because Black men are brothers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, friends, uncles and neighbours. Black women are sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, friends, aunts and neighbours. The entire world watched Floyd's savage murder captured on video, as we all lost an innocent life. America is not alone. The country should be joined with the rest of the world on a long journey towards equality because racism doesn't stop at the American border. May we fight together, to continue fighting to overturn a system that has left racially diverse communities on their knees for centuries.
George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark and Breonna Taylor. These are only a few innocent Black lives, but whose names are next?