Grateful for Accountability, but the Fight for Justice Continues
Like many across the country, we let out a collective sigh of relief when Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, was found guilty on all charges last week. We hope this brings as much peace and healing to Mr. Floyd's family and community as possible, and that it reinvigorates those in the fight for racial justice with renewed hope. We should never forget that it was we, the millions of people around the world, who together ignited a reckoning on race and made clear that we won't let our demands for justice, accountability, and transformative change be ignored.
Mural at the George Floyd Memorial in Minneapolis. Photo by Catalyst Miami staff.
That sense of relief over the verdict, however, is inextricably coupled with grief. Grief over the fact that no ruling can bring George Floyd back to his loved ones, and grief over the truth that institutionalized racism in our justice system persists. Indeed, 64 people have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement since the Chauvin trial began on March 29, according to the New York Times—more than half the victims Black and Latinx.
It was minutes after the verdict was announced that 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. Not long after the trial began, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed during a traffic stop a few miles from where hearings were taking place in Minneapolis. And on the same day the trial began, Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, was fatally shot by police in Chicago, on the cusp of his whole life ahead.
This unnecessary violence and loss of life is heartbreaking and inexcusable.
The rate of murders of Black and Brown citizens at the hands of law enforcement remains tragically high because the system that's supposed to protect them was built on a foundation of white supremacy and anti-Black racism. We know with certainty that the verdict in Derek Chauvin's trial is an extremely rare act of accountability, and that in reality, it's simply that: accountability, not justice.
Justice would be having a system of public safety that truly centers around community well-being, does not allow those with power to take away lives with impunity, and protects all of us equally under the law.
Justice is what we will—and must—continue to fight for.
At the George Floyd Memorial in Minneapolis. Photo by Catalyst Miami staff.
And yet, while many of us actively work to build that new system we need, there are those who seek to uphold or worsen the status quo. In Florida, the newly enacted HB1 more harshly punishes people for exercising their First Amendment rights—a law that had bipartisan opposition and 63% of Floridians rejected. Spearheaded and signed by our governor, this law was a direct response to the movement demanding police accountability and transparency. With this policy now in place, we must be even more aware of our rights—thank you to ACLU Florida for these resources.
To dismantle white supremacy and live in a truly just, anti-racist society, we must challenge and radically reimagine the political, social and legal systems that are rooted in inequity and govern our everyday lives.
In honor of George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant, Adam Toledo, and too many who should still be with us, we remain steadfast in our commitment to racial justice. We maintain the hope that through collective, long-term action and compassion, we can and will create a society in which all people can truly live freely.
Mental Health Resources
“Racism is a public health crisis,” according to a May 2020 statement from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). If you or someone you know is experiencing mental or emotional distress, you are not alone. Please click here for a list of helplines you can call or text.