The fact that a police officer murdering a man in broad daylight was found guilty tells us not that justice is served in this country, but that justice has been absent all along. The guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin is newsworthy and historic because it is an exception, not because it is an example of how well the American justice system works. The litany of African-Americans killed by police and others who have historically escaped justice is so long that no one could recount all of them.
Time and again the killer (s) have gone free. It is a reflection of the systemic racism built into the country that it is assumed when a cop kills a black person the cop will go free while the families and loved ones of the victim are left to wonder where the justice promised to all of us has gone and why it doesn’t apply to them. This also isn’t just about murder; it’s about all the ways that people of color are discriminated against in this country with a blind eye turned toward all of it by the white ruling class.
We have so much work to do. Derek Chauvin’s conviction does not negate the escape from justice of those who killed other loved ones like Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Daunte Wright, Elijah McClain, and countless others we never hear about because charges are never brought when the killings are investigated by other heads of the same hydra and then are ruled as justified.
There is so much work to do. The Chauvin case cannot be the exception. It must be the rare example (so far) of a justice system that works and that ultimately leads to justice in all similar cases. It must lead to a society so deconstructed from systemic racism that the era of similar cases is ended once and for all. Police and others must recognize that they can no longer get away with murder and that the thin blue line of loyalty no longer extends to those who kill or who target any race or class of people.
This is a moment where we can not only look at reforming our justice system, but begin to overhaul an entire society where structural racism has kept us from living up to our promise.as a nation. We have not ended police killings of vulnerable citizens, hate groups, or discrimination, but we now have the opportunity to begin to look inward and create long-needed reform in all areas of our society. This is day one. Every day going forward must be day one on the long journey to true and consistent justice for all.