By Vernon A. Williams
The nation rejoices in the execution of justice in the awful police murder of George Floyd. Rightfully, former rogue cop Derek Chauvin was found guilty of unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The temptation is understandable.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said it best. The guilty verdict was not justice. This was accountability.
Elaborating Ellison said, “True justice is not one case, it is a social transformation that says no one is above the law.” He added, “This verdict reminds us that we must make enduring, systemic societal change.”
In 1992, America saw 56 blows from the police baton to every stretch of Rodney King’s body inflicted by brutal police after a brief chase in Los Angeles. It was captured on video and evoked rage from coast to coast. And yet, the men charged were acquitted of all charges.
It wasn’t that long ago that we mourned the loss of teenager Trayvon Martin, visiting his father’s apartment complex in Sanford, Florida, wearing a hoodie and snacking on Skittles before being assaulted and shot by a wild, self-proclaimed Neighborhood Watch vigilante. His attacker George Zimmerman was found not guilty.
Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Ferguson, Missouri youth was shot while his hands were up, by a police officer never charged with wrongdoing – even though he offered no medical attention and left the victim’s body lying dead in the street for four hours.
The lamentable roll call of unarmed brothers and sisters unjustly victimized by the endless brutal assault on “Living While Black” include Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Daunte Wright, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, John Crawford, Michael Dean, Christopher Whitfield, and far too many more to mention – though they remain in our hearts.
We can never give up the hope for change.
Since the murder of George Floyd, we have seen dozens more police killings of unarmed Black citizens.
We must change the paradigm used in the way police interact with the community and insist on accountability for those who violate established standards of human dignity.
Use the George Floyd case as an inflection point. We need to focus on prevention – not just a cure. Even prosecution does not make the pain go away. We need a true heavenly shift in the atmosphere.
Kudos to the Minneapolis police department for firing Chauvin immediately. Kudos to the Attorney General for filing charges only four days after this heinous act. Kudos to the young Black men and women who took to the streets to cry, “No justice…no peace.”
Kudos to white Americans in all 50 states who stood on the front lines for the cause. Kudos to the brilliant legal team that prosecuted this case. Kudos to a courageous jury that did not meander or delay justice. Kudos to the strength and dignity of George Floyd’s family.
But last and not least, this entire nation owes a debt of deep gratitude to the group of citizens who happened by that incident in progress and got involved to the extent that “outlaw” law enforcement would allow. Look at what God did.
God had a martial arts expert show up that day, at that place, that precise time to testify that the knee-to-neck pressure of Derek Chauvin was life threatening. God had an EMT encounter the situation to attest to the dire injury and lack of life-saving measures initiated by police. God had an inquisitive elder confront Chauvin immediately after the death to document his callous disregard. Then, God had a nine-year-old on the scene to witness to the fact that even a child could discern the clear and present danger.
Arguably, God placed a 17-year-old technology student, Darnella Frazier, only a few feet away to perfectly position her smart phone camera and to bravely video every excruciating second of this horrifying event. Immediately after the fact, internet cowards bullied her and criticized her for exercising her civic and moral duty. Instead of the praise she deserves as a hero, she has since gone into therapy to stave off the impact of critics.
The negative criticism she received in the aftermath of her heroism confirmed the adage that no good deed goes unpunished.
She and her mother have had to move to an undisclosed location for safety. She has nightmares about the killing. But she responds to critics with the same uncommon maturity and courage with which she stood her ground to calmly video record the homicide in the midst of the chaos.
Darnella is a hero. She responds to critics saying: “If it wasn’t for me, four cops would’ve still had their jobs, causing other problems. The police most definitely would have swept it under the rug with a cover up story. Instead of bashing me, you should thank me.”
She’s right. Thank you DARNELLA FRAZIER!
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.