Justice and accountability were served in the Chauvin case — now what?
Despite victory in Tuesday's verdict in the murder of George Floyd, the fight for justice and police reform is still on and many other cases remain pending
Derek Chauvin’s conviction stands to signal to others in law enforcement that everyone is accountable to the letter of the law in the United States.
While the struggle continues to ensure that Black American lives are valued the same as other Americans, the Chauvin verdict hands over a rare moment of justice to the Black community.
Plagued by fear, anger and trauma, Black Americans remain on guard because, despite victory in Tuesday’s verdict in the murder of George Floyd, the fight for justice and police reform is still on and many other cases remain pending.
An important takeaway for the public about the nation’s justice system is that criminal liability is the new standard officers will be expected to adhere to in their interactions with the Black community. Because Chauvin was found criminally liable, law enforcement officers no longer possess qualified immunity.
But there is still much work to be done. Civil rights leaders on the ground told theGrio‘s April Ryan that the White House was bracing for all outcomes, but now the public is watching the Biden/Harris administration to see what policies are on the way. The president has said he’s not quite ready to unveil his plans for policing but cautioned the country that they are coming.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are actively looking to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and Black activists across the nation are unmoved in their positions to defund police departments. At the same time, many commentators feel Chauvin was sacrificed by the system to relieve it of the mounting public outrage and pressure that was all too familiar when not guilty verdicts let officers walk free.
But the Chauvin verdict has the potential to have the opposite impact and will probably serve as an ignition for activists and advocates, particularly since the public now sees that years of Black Lives Matter organizing invoked change. It’s very unlikely that the heat directed toward policing in America will cool.
This historic moment also provides Congress with the momentum to strike on police reform legislation.
But unfortunate truths still remain and bitterly detail the reality that ‘the system’ stands ready to fight back against attempts to reform it. Derek Chauvin is expected to seek an appeal based on a point highlighted by the judge who presided over his case.
During the end of the trial, Judge Peter Cahill told the defense counsel that Chauvin had grounds for an appeal based on comments made by Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Throughout the trial, the system continued to reveal how hard a fight still lies ahead for justice and reform.
The country is still waiting to see if Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and many others, will get the same justice currently being celebrated in the outcome of the Derek Chavin verdict. But the difference for these upcoming trials is what will now be known as the Chauvin precedent — criminal liability.
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