April 21, 2021

George Floyd’s Life Mattered.


Hands cuffed behind his back with the dignity not afforded his victim.

An emotionless Derek Chauvin was led away to jail after this momentous verdict was read:

Guilty of second-degree unintentional murder

Guilty of third-degree murder

Guilty of second-degree manslaughter

It was the same flat affect that he displayed when his knee was on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds—a lifetime that ended a life.

I can only imagine that it was inconceivable to him that this could be the outcome.

I had a flash of a scene from the movie “Ghost” in which the bad guy, Willie Lopez, who murdered Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) was hit by a car, died, and was swarmed by evil entities, called “Shadow Creatures,” and dragged away to his own private hell.

The world collectively held its breath when the news flashed across television screens that the verdict was in on the murder trial of Derek Chauvin.

I was praying along with the family and supporters that justice would be done in a country in which people of color are not provided the same rights as those with less melanin in their skin.

It will be another historical marker when people will recall where they were when they heard the news. I was home, pedaling my recumbent bike to burn off nervous energy. I was counting the minutes and visualizing a positive outcome. On social media, my circles of friends and family were joining me in that intention.

With my heart racing, I watched with rapt attention to the verdict, which only took 10 hours to render, since the jury believed what they saw over and over again as well as the testimony of expert witnesses and the heart-rending words of those who knew and loved George Floyd.

I cheered and cried. It was the same sense of relief I felt when President Biden was elected. The streets in the Milwaukee neighborhood were filled with jubilant people rather than angry protesters. I am watching them milling about as I am writing this piece while they hug, cheer, and chant.

In pre-verdict interviews with George Floyd’s brother and girlfriend, they said they were optimistic. They must be tremendously relieved, and their tears were expressions of joy and sorrow.

In an interview, a few hours after the verdict, on CNN, Philonise Floyd said he believed, “We will get justice. We will get it.” His faith allowed him to walk with God as he acknowledged pacing back and while waiting for the final word.

I can imagine the retraumatization the family experienced, as he said, “I watched my brother be executed day after day.”

He added, “Tomorrow, it’s back to business.” Meaning, that it is only a first step in far too many to come to level the playing field and make this country a safe place for people of color. Since George Floyd’s death under the knee of a man who committed to serve and protect, 181 Black people have died at the hands of police.

As a middle-class White woman, I can only imagine the sheer terror that some of my friends of color might feel on a daily basis. I wonder what they are feeling now.

Tears of relief and grief will be stirred up anew as the other officers who were part of the arrest for an alleged passing of a counterfeit $20 bill will be tried later in the summer.

In a powerful statement, after the verdict was delivered, Vice President Harris clearly expressed, “A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer.” She is determined to see that the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act passes.

As she reminded us, “We are all a part of George Floyd’s legacy.”

She was followed by President Biden, who said, “It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism. Enough of these senseless killings. Today’s verdict is a step forward. Such a verdict is much too rare. It took, “a brave young woman with a smartphone camera,” to record, “a murder that lasted almost 10 minutes for all the world to see.”

This is not merely one bad apple that poisoned the barrel.

It is a system that permitted him to truly believe he could get away with his actions. He might have, if not for now 18-year-old Darnella Frazier, who was in the right place at the right time. When she woke up on May 25th, 2020, she had no clue how the day would unfold. Had she not been present to record the murder, it might have gone an entirely different way. In fact, the original police report indicated, “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.”

She is one of the heroes in the story, as were the police officers who testified against Chauvin, defying “The Blue Wall of Silence.”

Although the prosecution told the jury that this trial wasn’t putting policing on trial, it really was.

It will have to shape the way that officers deal with calls they are responding to. They are on notice that what Chauvin did would not fly. The jury had a daunting task that put them in a glaring spotlight, knowing full well that any verdict they rendered would have a ripple effect into eternity. They can now sleep peacefully, knowing that they were on the right side of history.

George Floyd’s family might say the same, but nothing can replace their loved one. No amount of time that Derek Chauvin will serve will bring George Floyd back to them. Almost a year after his death, he may find peace too.

“Justice for George means freedom for all.” ~ Philonise Floyd

While George’s murder was vindicated and police are on notice that they are not above the law, we, as a nation, have our work cut out for us.

Black Lives Matter—it is not a political statement but rather a statement of fact and necessity. It is of the utmost importance regardless of the color of your skin.

We need to work together as we show up, stand up, and speak out in ways large and small. The force that took away the life of George Floyd and so many before him is fed by indifference as much as hatred. Looking the other way is not an option.

Yes, Gianna, your daddy changed the world. May it be a better world for you and all the children.


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