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Accountability Served

April 20, 2021

Derek Chauven = guilty.

Judge Cahill read the jury’s verdict/s of guilty on three counts (after just ten-ish hours of deliberations), then Chauvin was handcuffed and remanded.

Today, George Floyd’s life mattered. It mattered to his family, but he was also a proxy for unjustly treated people everywhere.

That is a good day.

~~

Van Jones said that a lot of people woke up today afraid to hope. Yes, sir. Exactly that. At coffee with Vicki, before the verdict, she asked what I thought would happen, and I said my best guess was a hung jury, maybe the manslaughter count, or.. acquitted. We all knew what happened. We all saw it. But I didn’t have faith. I, like everyone, was full of dread.

[And I’m a white woman, well outside the zone of fear, completely untouched by other people’s reality. I was full of dread today and cynicism, yes, but mine will never be the same as that of people battered by centuries of abuse and marginalization. Their reality, our collective problem.]

Now, evening, I find myself grateful beyond words that the wrong thing didn’t happen today. Grateful, relieved, but quaking in my boots wondering how we’ll ensure justice going forward for when it happens again. It will happen again, a thousand fold.

~~

But for.

But for the cell phone video of Darnella Frazier, this case would have been closed before it opened. If you want to feel sick.. deeply weary… read the initial police report of their encounter with George Floyd a year ago. That tells you all you need to know about trusting the police, about the internal policing of the police. It should scare the bejeezus out of you because we all know there are incidents — hundreds? thousands? — that fly under the public radar, that get buried for lack of a Darnella Frazier recording.

Even though we all watched a murder in process for ten minutes in broad daylight, a lot had to come together for us to arrive at this point today. It was a girl’s chance recording of the entire 9 1/2 minutes, it was the shock and outrage of a nation numbed by a pandemic, it was the appointment of Keith Ellison to the case, it was the breakdown of the blue wall — a whole bunch of police officers compelled to testify against one of their own — and somehow a jury came together to render a unanimous verdict.

And because of all of that, this one went the distance.

~~

A country awakened to the rank injustices in law enforcement and our judicial system is worth a ton. And now the ball’s in our court — the public’s. We somehow have to sustain the focus and outrage to keep people engaged in order to bring about a real shift in cultural attitudes.. right? As Van said, a guilty verdict today isn’t the end. There’s a lot to do to bring about fair policing. The public has to want it, the media’s got to keep it alive, there has to be significant pressure on our policy makers and legislators at all levels to re-imagine our policies, practices and laws.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is an important step. Ban chokeholds, establish a registry for bad cops, the Senate can approve right now Biden’s pick of Kristen Clarke for Civil Rights Chief in the DOJ (we made calls for her a couple days ago!). Those are concrete steps…

…and wow…it’s a long slog from today’s outrage all the way to systemic change. Like VP Harris said this afternoon, a measure of justice is not equal justice. She also said this is not black people’s issue alone. It’s all of ours. Van put it this way: it’s a math problem.. the majority has to work with the minority; we need numbers here.

The prosecution said there was a “bouquet of humanity” who bore witness that day, who ended up testifying in the trial. A commentator today said the jury was also a bouquet of humanity.. people from so many walks who had to come together in unanimity to bring about justice in this case. And now that same bouquet’s gotta get activated across an entire nation to ensure that justice is the ultimate, enduring outcome for all people, including people of color.

Right?

I heard a lot of dubious commentary today, even as people acknowledged and celebrated today’s amazing decision. Justice is ultimately way more than this verdict, this issue is bigger than one man’s death. It’s about an entire system that does not protect black people in the same way as it protects white people. I can understand the dubiousness.

We’ll see what happens with the next one.

~~

Some pics, screen grabs from today:

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