Former police officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction for George Floyd’s murder is only the tip of the iceberg in a much longer fight for racial justice.
By Victoria Vidales
Following months of agony George Floyd’s loved ones received some justice for the loss of him in the conviction of the man responsible for his death: Derek Chauvin. The former police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds in front of horrified bystanders. In a cell phone video played around the world George Floyd called out for his mother, and pleaded for mercy speaking the words “I can’t breath.” After his death this past spring, protests against police brutality and in support of racial justice broke out both nation and world wide. His final words “I can’t breath” became an anthem used by activists to call for change, justice and reform. Although Chauvin’s conviction is the just outcome, there is a much longer fight for racial justice that must be continued.
On March 8th the American people watched the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin trial begin where Chauvin faced charges for the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin was charged with three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. Witness after witness and expert after expert took the stand, most testifying that Chauvin’s direct actions caused the death of George Floyd. The jury watched as the video documenting George Floyd’s final moments alive was played. Following a deliberation, on April 20th Chauvin was convicted of all three presented counts.
After Chauvin’s verdict was read immediate emotions spread throughout the nation. George Floyd’s family received some justice for their loved one’s murder, and tributes by his fellow countrymen and women poured out everywhere. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the American people that evening expressing their support for racial justice and calling for change within this nation.
On April 21st U.S Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department would be conducting an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department ‘s practices including the use of excessive force. On April 26th AG Garland announced an investigation into Louisville Police Department’s use of excessive force in law enforcement. The LMPD is the same department that investigated the death of Breonna Taylor; no charges were filed in relation to her death. These investigations are the first step by the Justice Department, under the leadership of AG Garland, to investigate police brutality, a positive sign for change.
Although Chauvin’s conviction is a victory for accountability it is not the end of the movement for justice. George Floyd is only one of so many people of color that have been unjustly killed at the hands of some form of law enforcement. Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed, Adam Toledo was a child who dropped a gun, Elijah McClain was walking home; the list of unarmed Black and Brown people killed by law enforcement goes on and on. Change must begin and that change begins with us.
As young people ourselves we will be the people of tomorrow, the people who will make the laws that govern our country that shape the world we wish to live in. If we want to prevent someone else from facing the same fate that George Floyd did then we must advocate for change. We must vote in every election, run for public offices, pay attention to the facts, and remain informed on the world. It is essential that we encourage dialogue amongst those that disagree and that we are united in this movement for change. People are always stronger when they are united together and I hope that people have been awakened to the need for changes to be made in order to preserve the safety of all.
Victoria Vidales '21,