Yesterday, throughout the nation we collectively held our breath for a jury in Minneapolis to hand down their verdict in the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin. The country and the world witnessed a history-making decision to hold a police officer unequivocally accountable for his choices in the murder of George Floyd.
As many have noted, accountability is not equivalent to justice nor has the national escalation of cases like that of George Floyd inspired a visible, collective, and fundamental change in enforcement methods. The killing of Black and Brown people at the hands of law enforcement continues across our country.
Just yesterday, as we witnessed a pivotal moment of accountability in Minneapolis, a police officer in Columbus, Ohio shot and killed a 16-year-old Black youth named Ma’Khia Bryant outside her home. A few weeks earlier, Adam Toledo, age 13, was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer while standing with his hands raised in the air. According to the Washington Post’s database, 274 people have been killed by law enforcement so far this year. It is noteworthy that this rate has only increased since Derek Chauvin’s trial began on March 29 (source).
We have much work ahead of us to heal our collective trauma and create a system that truly supports the safety of all rather than upholds a system founded on the perpetuation of selective oppression. We must stand strong in our resolve against the systemic structural racism that upholds a hierarchy of privilege in our society and keeps our neighbors from feeling safe. We must work to build a community in which Black and Brown parents do not spend each day worrying that their children might not make it home safely from school or playing with friends. And we must fight for a community in which our AAPI neighbors do not have to worry about the daily threat of anti-Asian hate crimes and violence that have increased exponentially during this pandemic. Yesterday marked a moment of hope, a step towards a society where no one is above the law.