April 20, 2021

Beyond The Verdict

The verdict is in.

Today, in Minneapolis, a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last May. His bail was revoked, he was put in handcuffs and led to jail to await sentencing in approximately two months.

Yes, I was glad.

Yet there is nothing to rejoice about today, nothing to celebrate. George Floyd is still dead today. So is Daunte Wright. So is Breonna Taylor. So is Sandra Bland. [As I wrote this, I had so many names to choose from. This, itself, is an outrage.] What is different, for just this moment, is that the police officer who killed George Floyd was held accountable today.

The work of today’s jury is only a marker, a single signpost on a long, indirect, and treacherous road meant to lead toward equal justice under law. The truth is that we rarely arrive. Each one of us can recite the names of Black women and men who died at the hands of police, for whom justice has never come. It continues to be our nation’s shame.

There is no verdict that can return George Floyd to his family and his community; no verdict powerful enough to erase the image of his murder from the eyes of those brave citizens who stood, cameras in hand, recording this travesty of justice. There is no verdict that will ease a single aching heart or tortured soul who witnessed a nine-minute murder that should never have taken place.

Those aching hearts and tortured souls belong to this community too.

I am grateful to the jury who held out to all of us a glimmer of hope that justice is possible. But I know that those of us who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color remain targets of state violence, that even as I write there are others of us in danger from the very entities that supposedly exist to keep us safe. We are afraid — and we should be.

On this day, when a slight glimmer of hope reveals itself, remember to guard your hearts. Nurture your spirits in these coming bittersweet days. Look in on those most beloved to you, and on those who, in spite of this jury’s good work, may still live in despair. Do your very best to take care, to live to fight another day. For as surely as another day comes, this struggle will continue. We need you; we love you.



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