Op Ed

Chauvin Verdict Offers Glimmer of Hope

But real progress will require specific policy changes.

By - Apr 25th, 2021 08:55 am
George Floyd protest march on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

George Floyd protest march on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial is a sigh of relief but we know this is not over. As I am typing this, we are learning of a new murder in Columbus, Ohio, where a 16 year old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, was shot and killed by the police. That is why today is bittersweet. We can’t even fully process this verdict before another murder happened in this country. It is clear that this is not a case of a few bad apples. The entire system of policing dates back to slave catching. A system like that is beyond reform.

While a lot of us are exhaling from all the grief and trauma we’ve endured over the last year, we know that this isn’t justice. Justice is Gianna Floyd having her dad attend her graduation, walk her down the aisle, and be there for her through the highs and lows that life brings. To be clear, this is accountability, and not justice — a reminder there has still been no justice nor accountability for Breonna Taylor’s murder and the countless other people who have lost their lives at the hands of the police.

Our communities cannot afford to go back to business as usual.

Adam Toledo’s funeral is later this week. Our hearts are still wounded as we try to heal. This was the first time in a long time that we have seen a conviction like this. But we have to ask ourselves, why did it take this much to get to this moment? Nonstop protests for a year, violence against protesters, federal agents picking people off the street — is this the cost to get accountability?

We need tangible policies to make sure that we don’t end up here again. We have a choice to make. In Milwaukee, the Fire and Police Commission will be discussing (again) an exception to the chokehold ban. The fact that this is still being discussed, and there isn’t universal support on this, goes to show we can’t give up.

We’re exhausted, drained, and burned out, but this was the glimmer of hope we needed.

We need to convert this hope into fuel and demand the Fire and Police Commission not give any grace or leeway for police to continue to murder us. This is just one frightening and harmful action that can happen in the next couple of weeks. We have the ability to choose which side of history we want to be one.

It’s normal to have mixed emotions right now. But the one thing that we know is true is when Gianna Floyd said “My daddy’s going to change the world,” she meant it.

Angela Lang is the Founder and Executive Director of BLOC (Black Leaders Organizing Community) an organization dedicated to organizing and building political power in the African American Community. Prior to that she served in senior organizing roles for SEIU and For our Future.

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