On Tuesday, April 20th, Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. The guilty verdicts in the Chauvin case reflect a small measure of accountability, but they don’t change the fact that a Black man was murdered in cold blood. Nothing will change unless and until white people are willing to use their privilege to work as allies and accomplices in addressing systemic racism and deep inequality.
While we are relieved that Chauvin will be held accountable for his horrendous crime, there is still no true justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others who—despite posing no threat to law enforcement—have lost their lives to police violence.
Regarding the tragic death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, we ally ourselves with the statement of Columbus Urban League President & CEO Stephanie Hightower:
Just as we began to experience some sense of hope and healing from the murder of George Floyd, we lost one of our children. I grieve deeply for the loved ones who mourn Ma’Khia today. Losing a child is simply unthinkable. I also grieve for our entire community. One more precious life has been lost and, at the moment, we struggle with far more questions than answers about why.
Was it necessary to shoot? Couldn’t officers have used another option to defuse and de-escalate? Wasn’t there a concern for the safety of other people on the scene? If this incident occurred in a white suburban neighborhood and teenage girls were fighting, would officers have chosen the same method to respond?
We have no choice but to wait for more complete answers and greater clarity. But even as the experts investigate, even if they verify that the officer involved followed proper protocol, we need to ask ourselves if this is the kind of policing that our community needs and deserves. As noted by the federal George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, it is time that we re-examine our safety protocols to ensure they align with our values.
I look to the day when everyone believes they can trust our front-line officers to save lives rather than take them.
We firmly condemn the brutality and violence perpetrated against Black Americans throughout history and in the present day, and we stand as allies in solidarity.