MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Those are the words that now former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin heard after hearing his fate be decided in the killing of George Floyd.
Chauvin, who would become the face of police brutality and systemic racism globally after kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds, was convicted on three counts for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
With many watching and following the Chauvin trial globally, 4/20 will forever be known as George Floyd Day instead of the much-celebrated day for marijuana use. As expected, celebrations broke out across both the United States and globally following the reading of Chauvin’s fate. The sight of seeing him led off in handcuffs will be celebrated amongst progressives, disenfranchised blacks, BIPOC and those who have suffered at the heads of police brutality and systemic racism.
I say this, not as CEO, Publisher and Founder of this esteemed and award-winning magazine, but I say this as a black man born and raised in the rough East Side Hough Heights neighborhood of Cleveland that has seen police brutality and how they’ve interacted with my fellow brothers and sisters here in my city, that there is a deep-seeded and very complicated relationship with the 5-0.
I share my own personal experience from watching and going thru the O.J. Simpson and Rodney King trails while I was in high school, and as a black man, my heart still aches for the family of Tamir Rice, who grew up not fair from where my mother currently lives in the Buckeye-Shaker Square neighborhood.
At birth, it is ingrained and taught to us to always be careful around police officers if they pull you over at a traffic stop, or ask you questions about speeding etc. Despite moving “up the hill” into suburban Cleveland Heights, to burrow from my favorite French proverb, but the more things changed, the more they stated the same.
Seeing Chauvin on trial, was a very traumatic and mentally damaging experience for not only myself, but every man, woman and child that has darker skin in the BIPOC community.
Thanks to the recent slayings of Daunte Wright—not far from the ongoing Chauvin trial—the senseless death of Breanna Taylor, the recent death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, WE as black people are haunted and carry the burden of the unarmed slain ghosts of Michael Brown, Jordan Edwards, Nathaniel Pickett II and Eric Garner.
The list of unarmed black people being shot and killed by police is a long and sad one littered with tragedy, so naturally the unlikely and shocking conviction of Chavuiin was not only not expect, but has left Black America in a rather alien and unusual position of joy, celebration, but also cautious hope and optimism.
While—for once—the legal system avenged Floyd in convicting Chauvin, there is clearly a problem in police departments all across the country that have been infiltrated by white supremacy and mandated by QAnon, while Chauvin is one of one, more needs ot be done to catch, convict and hold any future cops from savagely taking another black life.
They say that black lives matter. And that is true. Black lives matter in the sense is that we have the same rights, freedoms and rights afforded to us by the United States Constitution and granted to us by Abraham Lincoln, when he freed the slaves under the Emancipation Act of 1862.
And yet, despite being brought here from Africa against our will back in 1640, blacks have for far too long been treated as nothing more than property, dehumanized as sources of entertainment or labor and systemically abused, killed and slaughter with little to no consequence.
While slavery, Jim Crow and segregation may be in the past, we are now in the era of Jim Crow 2.0, targeted voter ID and registration laws and “white privilege’ in the new dark era of White Supremacy.
I can only hope that these new ideals and entities are properly vanquished to the dustbin of history and merely will be nothing but a brief footnote. While I can only hope for this, I pray for future generation’s such as my daughter and her kids.
While many of my fellow black brethren are not holding our breath. Hopefully, the Chauvin conviction provides the momentum for the passing of the proposed George Floyd Justice In Policing Act of 2020 bill, currently in the Senate that will address and provide some long overdue police reform, such as the ending the use of chokehold and carotid holds at the federal level.
Blue lives matter. All lives matter. All of those equally matter, but not until black lives matter.