The following entries made by members of the Community Editorial Board touch on emotions and thoughts surrounding the trial. They were written before the jury convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd. Floyd’s death, after being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, set off a furious reexamination of racism and policing across the U.S.
Let’s say that Derek Chauvin is convicted and appropriately sentenced for the murder of an unarmed Black man named George Floyd. Even if the best-case scenario is realized, it’s just one. One man. One conviction. One appropriate sentencing. Countless unarmed Black people continue to die at the hands of police officers. Twelve jurors cannot balance the scales of 400 years of White violence against Black bodies and spirits. I can’t find hope in one conviction. It’s bad math. Hope happens when we change the equation. When every Black person encounters White officers and the outcome is respect, recognition of each other’s humanity, and life not death. One trial, regardless of the outcome, cannot do that.
I’d love to say I’d be shocked if another killer cop is found innocent. But I won’t be. And neither will anyone else. It won’t be the first time we watched a senseless and brutal crime on camera, and then believed it never happened, because it was a cop. Some of us already believe no crime was committed, because it was a cop. We watched a man strangled to death by the full weight of another man on his neck. We all saw it happen. But we’ll deny our own eyes, because, well, because it was a cop. That’s the sad irony of oppressive systems. We end up trusting in them more than in ourselves.
Until the majority of White people agree that over-policing and systemic racism play key roles in the deaths of George, Breonna, Daunte, Adam and whoever, sadly and inevitably, is next, we will continue to have streets soaked with the blood and tears of Black and Brown people. My children will continue to ask their dad to be careful when he puts on a hoodie and jogs in our “good” neighborhood. My husband will continue to run wide circles around people unloading their groceries. And as a White woman, when I’m driving solo in my minivan, I’ll never fear death when I see lights flashing in my rearview.
As a mother and education advocate, I have hopes for the verdict but based on my life and work experience—I don’t believe much will change. We all watched 9 minutes and 29 seconds of a man’s life leave us. One doesn’t have to look to Minneapolis to see the injustice, the disregard for life, the lack of investments in communities of color. It’s in our very own backyard. Today’s outcome won’t change what’s already in motion for so many other Black men and children of color across our nation. We tell ourselves we’re progressive enough, we care enough but verdict after verdict, leader after leader, policies, systems and budgets speak to me. It shows our values. We failed George Floyd long before that fateful day. We continue to fail Black children across America. There is so much more we need to do to create a better future for our children. Until we make more investments in our children, George Floyd, sadly, will be one more life lost, full of potential who was caught in a system that never gave him a fair chance.
I hope Derek Chauvin is convicted for the murder of George Floyd. The video evidence and the testimony of expert and eye witnesses is overwhelming. It’s gut wrenching. If Chauvin can’t be convicted, what police officer can be found guilty of using excessive force to kill a suspect? Chauvin literally pressed the life out of George Floyd. The whole world watched it. I fear what could happen if the jury does not convict him. I lived through and reported on the riots that followed the acquittal of four LAPD officers in the beating of Rodney King. As White man, I have a much better understanding now about the fear Black Americans feel when they are pulled over by a police officer. I pray that justice will be served in this case and many others.
—Jeffrey L. Rabin
I want to feel like the final guilty verdicts might be a sign of hope, a promise for change, or a small breath of relief. But all I can do in this moment is grieve, thinking about all of the lives that have been lost, knowing that there is still a long road ahead in the fight for equality, equity, and justice.
—Murriel Perez McCabe