Derek Chauvin is now properly referred to as convicted murderer. A jury found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty nine seconds on May 20th, 2020.
Chauvin now awaits sentencing and could be sent to prison for decades. The three other former police officers who stood by and did nothing while Chauvin murdered Floyd will be tried in August.
A white police officer murdering a black civilian is nothing new. The cop facing consequences beyond being fired or suspended is rare, especially in the US.
So, while many, understandably, are celebrating the fact that there will be accountability for Derek Chauvin and hopefully some justice for George Floyd and that racist and brutal cops actually can be convicted of murder and not always get away with it, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t happen all the time or even frequently. If it did, Chauvin probably wouldn’t have felt perfectly comfortable murdering someone in broad daylight with plenty of witnesses and a camera filming him.
Look at what it took to get to this moment:
- Solid (and incredibly hard to watch) video evidence that Floyd was in no way able to resist let alone threaten Chauvin
- A spring and summer’s worth of protests in every major American city, complete with solidarity protests around the world, and the tireless work of BLM and other groups
- Mounting calls to defund (and in some cases abolish) the police
- Massive media coverage and pretty much the whole world watching the trial
- The knowledge that if Chauvin wasn’t charged or walked, things would explode again in the streets
- 10 hours of jury deliberation after they were presented with some of the most bogus arguments imaginable
Yes, this is a victory and it hopefully will change things, but it’s important not to get complacent. This is in no way proof that the system works, only that it can work in a specific and very public case if enough people force it to.
This isn’t a reason to stop calls to defund the police. Or, for those of you who don’t like the slogan, it’s not a reason to stop calls to take stuff like traffic stops crowd control and dealing with people who may have accidentally passed a counterfeit $20 bill away from people with guns and let a much smaller and better-trained group of people with guns focus on stuff like murder, assault and hostage taking, all the while removing a paramilitary force from our streets (see, the slogan works better).
Murderer murders man in broad daylight, is filmed, and then is convicted of murder shouldn’t be a banner headline, it should be the norm when such a thing happens. And it shouldn’t take hundreds or thousands or millions of people to make it happen, either, just a few of his peers.
Until police indiscriminately murdering black men is what shocks and surprises us and repercussions for those cops is what’s expected, the fight needs to continue.
Until that is the reality, the fight needs to continue.