A Measure of Accountability in the Killing of George Floyd

April 22, 2021

While one verdict cannot begin to heal the years of trauma that Black people in this country face, this verdict is an important measure of accountability.  But justice has not been served. Justice would be George Floyd alive today, living in a world that knows Black lives matter. Justice would be an end to the constant, unrelenting police violence that takes the lives of nearly 1,000 Americans each year and terrorizes the lives of thousands more.  

“We will have to do this for life. I am going to put up a fight every day. Because I am not just fighting for George anymore,” said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother.

“True justice for George Floyd will come from investing in Black people and defunding the police, not the unjust criminal legal system,” reads the statement from the Movement for Black Lives.

Even as the trial was underway, the police murdered another young Black man just miles from the courthouse. The family of Daunte Wright lost a father, a son, a boyfriend, a friend. Just weeks ago, police killed Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy, with his empty hands in the air. Ma'Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, was shot and killed just before the verdict was announced. These murders add to the constant trauma of living in this unjust, racist system and add to the urgency of demands for reimagining public safety. 

We write today relieved that a small amount of accountability has, at last, been applied to a police officer. But we will not let this verdict lessen the urgency of demands for changes to the violent system of policing in this country. 

This trial cannot be seen as vindication that the system can work—it must be seen as proof that it is broken.

Our work to transform systems through liberatory public policy and end systemic anti-Black racism requires our community to lean on one another in these moments.  “Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world. This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state,” said the Floyd family’s attorney Ben Crump in a statement.

Incremental policy changes haven’t stopped the killings and one guilty verdict will not, either. We need to reimagine public safety in America.

Communities are in deep pain right now. Each murder of yet another Black person by the police shows we need to transform our approach to public safety. Lives should always matter more than property.

In the words of the Movement for Black Lives, “There is no ‘reforming’ this system—the time is now to divest from deadly policing and invest in a vision of public safety that protects us all.” 

(Photo by Jéan Béller)

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