On April 20, the state of Minnesota found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, many people are saying there is finally justice for this murder.
Justice is not quite the word we should use. Let me offer up a more accurate word: Accountability.
‘Justice’ would have been giving George Floyd due process when he was suspected of committing a crime. ‘Justice’ would have been not murdering him when he was cooperating—which doesn’t matter, because cops shouldn’t even be killing people who are uncooperative. ‘Justice’ cannot exist for George Floyd.
The best we can have is accountability for those responsible for his death. And we’ve reached that point with Derek Chauvin: he will go to prison, and there is talk of his old cases—yes, he has murdered others—potentially being reopened. I’d like to see him face repercussions for his actions. No one is above the law, so why do police officers seemingly get to float above it and commit crimes against citizens while getting off scot-free? Oftentimes even with support from their coworkers?
The truth is that this case comes far too late. It should not take months of protest nationwide for someone to be charged with a murder that the world saw him commit on video. This is privilege in action, and it is disgusting.
But Derek Chauvin was given his due process. He got to sit in front of a jury, and he was convicted of the crime he committed. We need to remember that George Floyd and the countless others killed by police were not given that chance. Cops don’t get decide who’s guilty, and they don’t get to give death sentences.
And in the wake of this trial, even more names come forth: Daunte Wright, 20, Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, and Adam Toledo, 13. They were all younger than I am. They all had so much more of their lives to live. And they were all brutalized by police. Murdered by the very police who are meant to protect. How can we sit with our consciences when every day is a new police shooting?
Daunte Wright left behind a family, at a traffic stop less than 10 miles from Chauvin’s trial. Ma’Khia Bryant was afraid, defending herself, and called for help. Adam Toledo was a child. He liked to play with Legos. He had his hands up. And we have to remember Breonna Taylor, whose murderers still have not been held accountable. She dreamed of becoming a nurse. But with each unnecessary death, the details begin to be blurred.
They were all people.