We are relieved that, this time, a member of law enforcement has been held accountable for taking the life of a Black man in cold blood. Many people were anxious about the verdict, despite all the testimony and evidence, including the horrific video of George Floyd’s murder viewed all over the world. We thought of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, and far too many other Black lives taken by police with no accountability. We were worried the system would once again fail Black people, which speaks volumes about the brokenness of policing and our justice system.
As many have said, accountability isn’t justice, and one rare rebuke is not equity. George Floyd’s loved ones still have to live with the tragic, racist, and unnecessary loss of their son, brother, and father. The brave eyewitnesses, like then 17-year old Darnella Frazier, who stood and filmed the murder and made this verdict possible, have to relive those 9 minutes and 29 seconds for the rest of their lives. Far too many families who have had their loved ones taken by anti-Black police violence continue to live without justice. Black and Brown people in communities across the country continue to fear for their lives, and the lives of their children and grandchildren, in any encounter with law enforcement. These constant acts of police violence and racism inflict deep trauma on Black people and we must fight against them.
But yesterday was a crack in the fortress, a gap through which justice may eventually flow. But only if we make it so. Our racist system of policing and justice has been broken for far too long. One verdict in light of voluminous evidence can’t change that. But we can. Almost a year ago, people all over the world took to the streets crying for justice for George Floyd and so many others. Many took that same energy to their local communities, seeking to overhaul the way their communities handle policing. As attorneys, we know the law can be a powerful force for justice as well. At Justice in Aging, we will continue to do everything we can to challenge and disrupt systemic racism in the law as we work in solidarity with impacted communities and partners. We will speak the names of those taken from us by police, insisting that their lives mattered. George Floyd’s life mattered. Black lives matter. May George Floyd rest in power. May his family find solace.
May the words of George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, be fully realized: “Daddy changed the world.”