Dear MSP Community:
Today was an important day in the fight against racism. But it’s only a first step. As I watched the media coverage of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, I was struck by the reactions of so many Black Americans, many of whom warned against celebrating too soon. “It took a Black man being murdered on television for almost 9 minutes to get a guilty verdict;” and “What happens the next time, when nobody gets it on video?”
That many of us doubted we’d see a guilty verdict in the face of overwhelming evidence speaks volumes about the reality of systemic racism in this country. As President Biden said in his post-verdict remarks, such an outcome against a police officer is “…much too rare.”
This is but one case, one verdict; just one step in the right direction. Yet I find myself hanging on the images and words of Mr. Floyd’s daughter, who said, “My daddy changed the world.” This beautiful 7-year-old embodies my hope that maybe things will be different and that her father’s death will not be in vain. The world is watching. People from all walks of life have mobilized and are simply stating, “No more.”
So maybe it’s okay to allow ourselves to feel some relief about this outcome and hope that we may be at the “…moment of significant change” described by President Biden. Ten police officers, and their police chief, did the right thing and spoke up against one of their own who abused the power of his position. Their bravery, and that of all of the witnesses, was largely responsible for Derek Chauvin leaving the courtroom in handcuffs – an image that now resides in my brain alongside the image of him kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.
Perhaps justice was served today, but there is still so much work to do. As Vice President Harris said, “Today, we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice is not the same as equal justice,” she said. “We must continue the fight even when we feel justice has been served.”