Last summer, America stood transfixed as it watched, over and over, footage of a police officer killing a man in broad daylight, kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. For all Americans it was horrifying, but for people of color it was not surprising. What has been surprising, relieving, and heartening, is that the court process in Minnesota worked as it should. This is progress; accountability for police use of force is incredibly rare. But we shouldn’t have to applaud the justice system for doing what it should have done all along.
While this should have been an open and shut case, if not for the fact that there was almost 10 minutes of excruciating video footage showing an inhumane murder taking place in public in broad daylight, we know that acquittal would have been likely. Without that video, and the horror and the protests it sparked, charges may well not have been filed for yet another Black person killed at the hands of law enforcement.
Our hearts go out to George Floyd’s family and community, and to communities of color across the country who know they could easily be next. The fight for justice must go on, in the name of George Floyd and so many others, including Daunte Wright and 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant who so tragically lost their lives to police violence even as the Chauvin trial was going on. The conviction of Derek Chauvin shows the system can hold police accountable; but it cannot bring justice. Justice would be if George, and Daunte and Ma’Khia and countless others were alive here today. Their children would have parents, their families would have loved ones. That is the justice we seek.
The Justice Policy Institute believes in a justice system that holds people accountable and treats everyone fairly. We stand in solidarity with everyone working for justice and to ensure that #BlackLivesMatter. We join with directly impacted families and community advocates and activists to create safe communities that aren’t based on violent, racist policing and punitive systems that sustain the power structure of white supremacy and a racist criminal legal system that leads to the overincarceration of Black and Brown bodies.