Like with many people in the United States, and across the world, my heart was beating at a mile a minute as the judge in the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial read the verdict on all three counts:
After I heard the verdict, I was personally relieved. I know many others who feel relieved with the verdict as well, for it meant that George Floyd’s life mattered enough that the police officer who killed him went to prison.
However, in my own humble opinion (humble because I do not have to worry about police on a daily basis like my friends of color do), what we saw today was not justice for George Floyd. Justice would’ve been if George Floyd didn’t get killed at the hands of Derek Chauvin.
Instead, what we got was accountability. Namely, accountability for a chokehold that lasted nearly 10 minutes. Derek Chauvin, the person who killed George Floyd, was held accountable for that chokehold.
That accountability often does not happen. Look at Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, and many others. All of these individuals were killed by police officers, and yet the police officers who killed them didn’t go to jail. In all these cases, we got neither justice nor accountability.
The ultimate goal should be justice, period. Justice means that Blacks are treated the same by law enforcement as others–something that is far from being the case. Justice means that Blacks aren’t so disproportionately subject to everything from marijuana use to being shot at in spite of being unarmed. Justice means that my friends of color and my brother’s friends of color are given the same treatment by law enforcement that I receive. But justice goes beyond policing–it means the elimination of racial inequality in everything from our schools to our economic systems. Reaching this goal of justice will not be easy, and it may take a long time to achieve this goal (especially as long as too many people keep electing politicians who do everything in their power to keep us from marching towards justice), but that should be our goal.
However, we can hope that the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin Murder Trial will at least be a first step towards accountability. Namely, accountability in terms of how Blacks are policed. With accountability, we can get a step closer to making sure that Black lives truly matter.
Please note that I wrote this piece on the fly, so I apologize in advance for any mistakes I made here.