We didn’t need a trial to know that Derek Chauvin was guilty

Yes. Derek Chauvin is guilty. But the system that gave rise to his cruelty, and the cruelty of countless other murdering police, is still on the loose.

Of course we all knew Chauvin was guilty. We knew it from the moment we saw the agonizing video of George Floyd’s final minutes in this world, crying out for his mother as his life was extinguished. Last summer that video found its way to our phones, computers and televisions. 

The graphic violence of a Black man’s death under the weight of a white police officer’s knee as other officers (some of whom were police of color) looked on, went viral as these things tend to do on social media. The images were seared into our collective consciousness, impossible for a community in quarantine to ignore. 

Photo: Benjamin Fanjoy

Since that moment much has happened. We have a new president. We have vaccines for a virus that has claimed the lives of more than half a million Americans. But as we march together towards some semblance of normalcy, the extra-judicial killings of Black and Brown men by police continue at a steady pace. In a perverse and horrible way, the continuous reports of police killings of Black and Brown men were one the few signs of normalcy that remained amid the pandemic.

A protester holds a sign with an image of George Floyd with the words reading “I cant breath” captioned, June 3, 2020. Photo: Benjamin Fanjoy

Our community has borne witness to the deaths of countless Black and Brown men at the hands of the police, most of which have gone unpunished. So it is crucial that we remember how we got to this verdict. Without the uprisings of the previous summer that swept across our nation’s consciousness, there is no verdict. Without the burning of buildings and smashing of windows—acts born of pain and frustration that were roundly condemned by many so-called “progressives”—there is no verdict. 

Without the dismantling of this brutal system and the creation of something new, these killings will continue. Today’s verdict is a milestone for racial justice and accountability in the U.S., but there are many, many more to reach. May this verdict propel us towards the building of a better future. May this verdict embolden our calls for justice for Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Roger Allen, Ma’Khia Bryant and the others who are yet to come.