Since Derek Chauvin’s conviction on April 20, there have been several large groups and corporations who have thrown their support behind the ruling, and many who have not. However, the overwhelming majority said that this ruling was “justice.” In reality, the only difference before the trial and now is that Chauvin is recognized as a killer by law, but nothing else.
By stating that justice has been served, it’s insinuated that a wrong that was committed has been fully and rightfully reversed. But there is no ounce of justice in the case against Chauvin. There is no undoing the pain and suffering the Minneapolis Police Department has forced upon the Floyd family, and there is no justice in the death of George Floyd. There was no “rightful sacrifice” that speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, spoke about. There is no justice in a guilty verdict, as it does not change death.
Many of us were glad to see the rightful ruling against Chauvin, as he mercilessly killed Floyd. However, anyone who’s paid attention since the trial knows many more names who have suffered at the hands of police brutality. Last week, Andrew Brown of Elizabeth City, North Carolina was killed by the police, and the body camera tape will not be released on a judge's order.We cannot normalize violence against BIPOC. Separately, not releasing the body camera footage from the murder of Brown shows how unwilling police are to working transparently.
It’s not enough that one police officer saw consequences for his crimes against humanity, as there are hundreds more police officers and federal agents who can still get hired after committing crimes. Police officers have tough calls to make at times, but they are not the judges nor executioners. Perhaps it should also be considered that police shouldn’t kill guilty people either. There’s no non-violent situation where the first resort should warrant pulling out a gun or placing your body on another’s in a way that does not allow them to breathe. It’s sickening.
On that note, many who supported the Chauvin trial outcome have used the term “I Can Breathe” as a play on some of the last words of Floyd. A similar statement was released from Floyd’s brother soon after the trial. However, corporations consistently utilize manipulation tactics and catchy phrases to exemplify their “support” without doing anything productive. What would be helpful, instead of tweeting out images with catchy phrases, is using the monstrosity of wealth accumulated by these corporations to aid in preventing this from ever happening again.
This is not a bash on those who want to be a supportive force, nor am I in any position to say how anyone should or should not show their activism, as there’s no best way to do so. However, what kind of message does “I Can Breathe” send? It makes it seem like a goal has been accomplished. Yes, a killer was caught on camera and found guilty of murder. Nevertheless, is the goal really to put more people away or to stop this senseless killing in the first place?
There is no relaxation for the citizens of our country who are still targeted day by day from a systemically racist institution. These institutions gaslight BIPOC communities through taking advantage of their general distrust in policing forces. It’s excruciating to think about so many people being killed by an organized group that a lot of us grew up knowing as a safety net.
It’s our responsibility, as the next educated generation, to make sure that brutal murders at the hands of police cease to happen. This comes down to holding the policing force to the highest standards, especially on our own campus. The NC State University Police Department is responsible for many lives on campus, and they are also responsible for using their deadly weapons in an appropriate manner, one that does not injure students. It’s our job to be active, aware and transparent of the actions of our policing forces.
It is not enough to convict one murderer, and the outcome in the Chauvin trial should act as the beginning of accountability for these victims.