21 Apr In Our Hands
The conviction of ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on all three counts related to the murder and unlawful death of George Floyd is an important milestone.
A chance to breathe. After a year of bated breath. And, at least partially, a source of relief and resolution. For the Floyd Family. For Minneapolis. For those who identify as people of color. And for all Americans. It speaks to the power of due process, to the truth being told, and to a verdict that felt like it matched the truth (after so many verdicts that have not felt that way, and after so many instances where nothing is even brought to trial).
In a powerful, public statement immediately after the verdict, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison had this to say:
“I would not call today’s verdict ‘justice’, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice. And now the cause of justice is in your hands. And when I say your hands, I mean the hands of the people of the United States.”
Attorney Ellison’s words incisively remind us that justice served in a particular case is not justice served across our society, is not justice fulfilled in the broader sense, is not every prior wrong now righted nor every future wrong averted. Attorney General Ellison’s words remind us that the work of justice is more than accountability after the fact. It’s also, and ultimately, about making changes to ensure we altogether prevent and avoid the unlawful, dehumanizing, and all-too-often deadly behaviors against people of color and, more broadly, against any human being, whether a naturalized citizen or not.
The cause of justice is in our hands. In our hands. In the hands of “We the People”, in all our variegated hues, genders, ages, preferences, creeds, abilities, and backgrounds. With God’s help, rather than setting justice aside or settling for justice for some, may George Floyd’s death (to name but one), the factors (both situational and systemic) that led to his death, and this verdict now spur us to continue the work. It is our work. Both as Americans. And, more specifically, as people humbly yet boldly seeking to fulfill Jesus’ commandment to love God above all else and to love our neighbors as ourselves.