On April 20, 2021, in a courtroom in Hennepin County, Minnesota, a jury of twelve Americans from diverse backgrounds rendered a unanimous verdict convicting Derek Chauvin for the execution of George Perry Floyd, Jr. Although approximately 1,000 people are shot and killed each year in America by police, only 95 police officers are charged each year, only 35 have been convicted in total, and only three of murder in the period 2005-2019. With blacks disproportionately represented in these statistics, the conviction of Chauvin, a white officer, killing Floyd, an unarmed black man, makes a greater aberration.
America, particularly black America, was on tenterhooks awaiting the verdict. The guilty verdicts afforded our nation a necessary breather; a breather is all it is. The dynamics that undergirded the violence demonstrated by Chauvin have not ebbed one iota, He operated within an incurable racist malignant system. It is the work of those who care about justice to take the necessary breather this glimpse of the possible affords. But respect that nothing in policy or procedure has altered the heart of the system.
It is our work to remain vigilant. We know what we must do. Continue to organize whenever we encounter injustice. Be discerning to distinguish attempts at pacification from true disruption of systemic maladies. Elect leaders whom we will support when consistent with our values and hold them accountable when they do not. To the jurors in Minneapolis, thank you for the breather. Now let us continue the work.
Reverend Richard Freeman, President
Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network