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April 20, 2021

The Chauvin Verdict: Welcome Accountability

A jury has convicted Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. This is welcome news, yet accountability for George Floyd’s murder must go beyond today’s conviction. The verdict is symbolic for a country that has long battled against the seemingly intractable forces of racial injustice. Despite today’s outcome, the stark reality is that for Black communities, encounters with law enforcement remain perilous and life threatening—it’s been so for centuries. One man’s conviction is not going to undo years of oppression and institutional racism, but it was a necessary outcome. 

In the United States, our judicial system has routinely failed to hold those who commit violence against Black people accountable—our justice system is institutionally biased against Black lives. This conviction is a form of accountability needed to provide justice for Mr. Floyd and his family. Yet, true justice is comprehensive and cannot begin after a life has been taken.

While his colleagues in uniform watched, Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds, resulting in Mr. Floyd’s murder. The entire incident, filmed and broadcast around the world, served as evidence of what occurred on the evening of May 25, 2020. 

Even with a guilty verdict, we must grapple with a trial where defense attorneys blamed the victim, focusing attention on him, as if he was the perpetrator of his own death. We also witnessed the inadequate emphasis on the legal principles that protect police from being held accountable and successfully prosecuted. 

Last summer, our nation was gripped by grief and outrage after the murder of George Floyd and many other unarmed Black individuals who’s lives were taken. In spite of this conviction, these demonstrations will continue to arise, and they should. The awakening we saw throughout the world last year must propel us forward and must never end.

We have choices to make as human beings about the future we want and what we are willing to do today to achieve it. For Humanity United, we can no longer work for peace and freedom in the world while injustice towards Black Americans remains so pervasive here at home. We are suffering from a crisis of anti-Black racism as our country continues to dehumanize Black people. We know that in order for racist institutional systems to change, we must change. We must become part of the solution. Last July, we announced new financial support to organizations that work to advance racial justice and equity. In the coming months we’ll be sharing details about the expanded budget and focus of this work. 

Even as we welcome today’s news, each of us must work to end structural racism and violence against Black communities. We will continue to stand in solidarity with those fighting for justice and freedom. We stand in mourning and solidarity with George Floyd’s family, with Black communities, and families across generations. We affirm that Black Lives Matter.

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