Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Guilty on all counts

Ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd yesterday afternoon, convicted on all three counts. When the guilty verdict was read, I suddenly found myself sobbing, which I had not expected, even though I had been wound tight, fearing that this case too, would end in acquittal, dismissal, and tacit approval of cops snuffing out Black life. But George Floyd's execution was just so egregious, and caught on tape for the world to see. For three weeks the prosecution mounted an airtight case, arguing for George Floyd's humanity, and Derek Chauvin's inhumanity, while the defense tried to conjure up stereotypes of the scary Black bogeyman who might rise up and be dangerous even as he's calling out for his Mama in the afterlife, ever after he's stopped breathing, long after he's dead.

So many people cried along with me, which in retrospect should not have surprised me. I called my daughter in Boston twenty minutes after the verdict was read and she was still sobbing, as if her poor heart was in shreds. What does it mean to you? I asked her. What is making you cry so hard? 

I think I just let it in, she said. I think I had held a part of myself numb for over a year because I thought I would need that numb place to deal with the courts once again not valuing Black life. I was afraid they would let that cop go, like they do every time, like they did with Breonna Taylor. But they didn't. This time they said, enough, too much. And now it's all flooding in, the tragedy and violence of what happened to George Floyd, that sweet, good man who so many people loved, who had his problems, who struggled with addiction, who missed his mama, but who did not deserve to die.

I got it. They found Chauvin guilty, but George Floyd is still dead. And to get a conviction, the entire world had to bear witness, because everyone knew that if that video recorded by a brave, heartbroken teenager had not existed, Chauvin would have walked, too. That's why so many people cried. Release and sorrow, a painful brew. And then, within the same hour came the news of a 15-year-old Black girl in Columbus, Ohio, who called the cops because someone was trying to stab her, and when the cops showed up, they shot the girl dead. I don't know the details yet, but I really can't bring myself to believe that they can arrest white men armed to the teeth with assault weapons, even ones who murder Black worshipers in church, all without putting a scratch on them, but they can't deescalate a knife fight without shooting a 15-year-old foster child dead.

Modern police forces evolved from southern slave patrols and northern night watches charged with subjugating and brutalizing people of color to uphold the ideology and practice of white supremacy. The police may have changed their uniforms, but not how they see Black and Brown folks. You can't reform this. The rot is soaked through. You have to tear it down to the studs and start again.


  1. As a metaphor about the patriarchy, a woman said that it's like an ancient city where no matter how many times it's rebuilt with new and modern buildings, better and better roads, the original grid is still there underneath. Racism in the US is like that too. I do not know how we change this, how we rid ourselves of the rot. But perhaps this is a tiny beginning. And I know completely how your daughter felt about the numbness- being afraid to even hope although that brave, strong teenager's video made it impossible not to see the truth. The truth hasn't mattered in the least in countless incidents just like this one.
    I read about that 15 year-old's death and I felt crushed again. I had the same thoughts as you- how is it that the police can somehow capture armed white men without injuring them while it takes a death to resolve a situation with a 15 year-old Black girl. Unbelievable. Quite literally.

  2. Yes, tears all around and also ongoing sorrow. George Floyd is dead and there's no undoing that damage. My sister and I were on the phone talking to each other while we listened for the verdict to be read. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. We shouted and cried to each other. On the same day, the same afternoon a 15 year old girl killed. Can we have hope that things will really change? I hope to have hope.

  3. Abolish the police. Begin anew if possible. You are right, the world had to bear witness. There is no way to fix what has been happening for the past couple of hundred years and it is going to take some heavy lifting, not on the shoulders of POC but of melanated challenged folks. Get this rolling in a monumental way! This is but a beginning- follow through y'all! Never let up!
    At first- elation after verdict read- for what? JUSTICE? Finally? And then the tears did flow.
    Carry on and carry charged up phones everywhere forevermore.

  4. Yes. "Murder most foul." So many all around the world know the truth. The tears came as I read your blog post. Delayed reaction. Will these murders ever cease?

  5. Finally, SOME measure of justice, though as you point out it comes too late for George Floyd. People who raise the issue of Floyd's drug abuse miss the point that it DOES NOT MATTER. The fact is, nothing the guy did called for him to be killed in the manner he was. We all know it, and the jury saw it too. There is no question that police resort to fatal force far more quickly when black people are at the other end of the gun.

  6. "if that video recorded by a brave, heartbroken teenager had not existed, Chauvin would have walked". I was so afraid he would somehow get off. So afraid. But there is not always someone there with a camera. How do we change things enough that we don't need them? I don't have an answer, sadly. Except that I do not think the present pattern of government can do it. Still sad and discouraged, although not as much as if it had gone the other way.

  7. I was thankful that somebody was finally made fucking accountable; it won't bring George back but it is a first step for holding the police accountable for what can only be described as systemic racism.

    I didn't realize it was a young girl who took the video. I just read about her and I'm not surprised she has what sounds like PTSD. My god, how could you not?

  8. I felt relieved until I heard about the death of the girl in Ohio... What next? So sad.

  9. I truly think they need to disband every police force and recruit anew with higher standards and background checks for racism. I was so afraid that even with that video showing exactly what happened they would at most only find him guilty of the most lesser charge. seeing the disbelief and fear in his eyes when the judge read the verdict, yeah you smug bastard, this is real.