A 77-year-old white president, impaled in the campaign for being hopelessly out of contact about racing, hailed the verdict as a triumph of racial justice. Immediately after that judgment, he made promises to the black community – and to George Floyd’s family directly. that a change was coming.
For a country ravaged by a pandemic, a year of protests, a bitter presidential campaign marked by ugly racial abuse and a failed insurgency, the verdict has been some kind of relief for many.
But even with the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, there were vivid memories that a case is not synonymous with systemic change.
On the one hand, the conviction in one of the most closely watched trials of police brutality is a win for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team of attorneys. It’s also a win for progressives and grass-roots activists who have kept Floyd’s name at the forefront of American consciousness through protest rallies, speeches, and on social media.
And without a doubt, Chauvin’s conviction gives hope to those who believe the judicial system is against black men like George Floyd, whose death from asphyxiation was captured on cellphone video for nearly 10 excruciating minutes.
The mounting evidence against Chauvin even seemed to move some conservatives to acknowledge that the 19-year-old Minneapolis veterans officer was not someone to be respected.
“Even if you support the blue, chauvin is not,” he said Twitter account for the Utah Tea Party. “Long history of complaints and mistreatment prior to George Floyd’s death.”
But even in the solemn mood there was a hint of caution, a feeling like this was but a victory in a very long struggle for equal justice. And there was concern that it would, and that a guilty verdict from a white cop would serve as an example of how the system was working – and not in need of a major overhaul.
Ellison hinted at this in his post-election press conference. While praising the jury for their decision on the Chauvin case, he said the verdict was insufficient to do justice to so many other black men and women who were killed or seriously injured in police encounters.
This is not justice, stressed Ellison, but “accountability”. Then he invoked the names of other victims of police brutality: Rodney King. Abner Louima. Oscar Grant. Philando Castile. Anton Black, Breonna Taylor …
“This has to end,” said Ellison. “We need true justice … a social transformation that says no one was under the law and no one is above it. This judgment reminds us that we have to do systemic permanently. Social change. “
Former President Barack Obama issued a statement reiterating Ellison’s call for systemic change.
“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that black Americans are treated differently every day,” said the nation’s first black president. “We need to recognize that millions of our friends, family members and fellow citizens live in fear of it.” Her next encounter with law enforcement could be her last. “
President Joe Biden, in a call to Floyd’s family immediately after the verdict, seized the moment and sounded emotional as he reminded her how Floyd’s young daughter Gianna explained that her “Daddy changed the world”.
“We’re going to start changing it now,” said Biden. “I wish I was there to put my arms around you.”
“America, let’s stop for a moment.”
Immediately after the verdict, Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference with the Floyd family and their attorney Benjamin Crump, known as the “Black America Attorney General”. The mood: Triumphant. Even cheering.
“Let’s pause for a moment to announce this historic moment not just for the legacy of George Floyd but also for the legacy of America,” said Crump. “The legacy of trying to make America for all Americans so that George Floyd’s victory and America’s pursuit of equal justice are intertwined.”
But seeing the process for yourself was anything but cheering. Watching the process was a trauma. Again and again those who tuned in were forced to watch the final minutes of George Floyd’s life as he begged for air, for relief, for his mother. Though many black men and women have died before him and from the police since, his case felt … different.
It was not done in the dark of night, but under the setting sun on a holiday weekend and in front of a group of mostly black-and-brown onlookers, many of whom asked that the officer give up the hold on Floyd’s neck. Ask the officer to give him some air.
The footage was played and played back from countless angles throughout the process. From different angles in television coverage from hammer to hammer.
The Chauvin case was about race from the start. And whether black and brown communities that come into contact with the US criminal justice system are treated fairly by law.
This process provided an unvarnished look at how excessive police force is being used in real time, especially when a suspect is black. The law enforcement agency’s presumption was not innocent until proven guilty, but guilty at first sight and overtly threatening. A threat.
Prosecutors led the jury through the now-known details of Floyd’s murder: The police were the scene of the Cup Foods in South Minneapolis on the corner of Chicago Ave. and called 38th Street.
Floyd, the police said tried to buy fake $ 20 cigarettes. Chauvin’s defense team described it as a “high crime” to the jury.
And Floyd ultimately paid for it with his life.
But someone had the presence of mind to catch Chauvin digging his knee into Floyd’s neck. And this time, demonstrators of all races took to the streets all over the world demanding justice.
This constant drumbeat of protests prompted federal legislators to pass a comprehensive law reforming the federal police force in March. They named it after George Floyd.
The measure would prohibit the profiling of races and religions by law enforcement agencies and prohibit chokeholds from federal officials. It was hardly a bipartisan effort – only one Republican in the House crossed the party lines to get them passed.
Tuesday’s guilty verdict is putting more pressure on the Senate to adopt legislation that has been stalled for weeks. Talks are ongoing between a handful of Senators, including Cory Booker (D-N.J.) And Tim Scott (R-S.C.), To see if a framework agreement can be reached on action.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi appeared to be aware of the potential political implications of the verdict following the verdict. Inept comparing Floyd to a martyr in a press conference with the Congressional Black Caucus:
“Thank you, George Floyd, for sacrificing your life for justice,” she said. “Because of you and because of the thousands, millions of people around the world who work for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.”
As for Biden, the fact that he was ahead of the verdict likely gave him a boost from the activist community.
During a meeting with members of the Hispanic Caucus in Congress on Tuesday, the president told reporters, “I pray the judgment is correct, which I think is overwhelming.” Later, when addressing the nation, he said it would take Herculean efforts “for the judicial system to provide only basic accountability.”
But even in the weeks of the trial, people, most of them people of color, continued to die by police, from Daunte Wright, just a few miles outside the Hennepin County courtroom where the jury determined Chauvin’s fate, up to 13 years-old Adam Toledo in Chicago.
Nevertheless, something has shifted.
Arthur Rizer, both a retired federal attorney and a former police officer, said the chauvinist trial was unique in one remarkable – and very important – way: so many officers testified against their former colleague.
And that’s a good thing, said Rizer.
“You really saw the blue wall fall apart,” Rizer said.
He adds that there must be an end to the police culture that encourages officials like Chauvin to believe that there are no limits to the exercise of their discretion.
“I hope this is a turning point.”
Or maybe not. Police shot and killed a 15-year-old girl on Tuesday afternoon, just before the jury passed their verdict in the chauvin trial about 750 miles east in Columbus, Ohio. Your aunt told the Columbus Dispatch that her niece was holding a knife to defend herself in a fight and she had called the police for help. She said the girl dropped the knife when she saw the police.
She was shot four times.
Her name was Makiyah Bryant.