Accountability, for now

Officer charged with murder of George Floyd a step in the right direction, but nowhere near justice

On Tuesday, April 20 former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, thirddegree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.  

The case received national attention last May after bystander video caught Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. After his passing on May 25, 2020 numerous Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country took place.  

 The Chauvin trial went on for 15 days, beginning on March 29, 2021.  After over two weeks of testimony the jury deliberated for 10 hours before reaching the unanimous conclusion that he was guilty of all charges. 

While this justice is certainly a step in the right direction, the fight for equality is far from over. Since the trial began at least 64 Americans have been killed at the hands of law enforcement, according to the New York Times. Over half of that number are people of color. One of those 64 deaths was a 13-year-old boy in Chicago who was shot with his hands in the air surrendering to the Police  

For this one guilty conviction numerous indviduals have lost their lives and nobody has paid the price, no justice served. One such example is of Breonna Taylor, an EMT from Louisville who was shot at least eight times by officers while she was in her home sleeping on March 13, 2020. No officer was charged in her death. In fact, the only charges were for shooting into her neighbors apartment, not for killing her. 

The Chauvin trial has shown that nobody should be above the law by holding Chauvin accountable for his actions. However, being accountable for murder isn’t the same prevention of the murder from happening. Change needs to take place so that these senseless deaths stop altogether. 

“Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice…Because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous for justice,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

While I understand Pelosi’s sentiment, this is a very problematic and dangerous viewpoint. The reason being that George Floyd was murdered, he didn’t choose that, he was not a willing participant in his own death.  It’s a dangerous narrative to imply that Floyd was some type of martyr when in reality he was simply going out to the store on that fateful day. Floyd is more than the way he was killed. He was a father, a boyfriend, an athlete, a hip hop artist, and a religious man, but not a martyr. 

I hope the murder conviction in the Floyd case is just the beginning of systemic and long-term change but only time will tell. Justice was served in this instance, but if things were truly just, Mr. Floyd would still be here today, able to watch his daughter grow up.