‘This isn’t justice; this is accountability.’
Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd. Almost a year ago, videos emerged of George Floyd crying out for help as he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer. Floyd died soon after the incident, resulting in weeks of protests, initially in Minnesota but extending worldwide. For a couple of weeks, the oppression of African Americans was present within the minds of all people. The response varied from peaceful protest to brutal violence and everything in-between; however, a unified sense of the need for change was felt.
Chauvin was convicted today of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The reason for his conviction of each of these different counts is outlined below:
Second-degree murder: The jury needed to be convinced that Chauvin unintentionally killed George Floyd while committing or trying to commit another crime, in this case, assault in the third degree.
Third-degree murder – The jury had to believe he acted in an eminently dangerous way, with reckless disregard towards human life when he killed George Floyd.
Second-degree manslaughter: The jury had to find that he was culpably negligent in causing George Floyd’s death.
Sentencing will now occur in 8 weeks to determine how long Chauvin will spend behind bars. It is difficult to estimate the sentence that will be handed down by the judge considering the lack of a prior criminal history contrasting the aggravating factors of the crime.
Regardless, today’s decision is a defining moment in the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s immensely disappointing that this movement has now been generalised by society as having a violent nature when its beginnings focused solely upon the advancement of rights for African Americans. The movement aims to pursue equality for all people, and this judgment is an important step forward in achieving this goal.
There are now real consequences for the use of excessive force, which is a vital factor in rebuilding the trust between communities and the police. There must be accountability for actions, and for so long, African American communities have been failed by the justice system. The lack of punishment and investigation has left an enormous divide within many societies, which has only exacerbated the problem.
Police officers ought to be held to the same standards as everyone else. Chauvin represents the failure of the system. He symbolises the broken system that continues to result in the loss of innocent lives. Only when the system changes will people like Chauvin no longer hold enforcement powers within society.
Accountability has occurred today. But, there is still a long way to go before justice is achieved. We must not be too quick to celebrate, as the ultimate goal has not been achieved. Today is a step forward, and we must use the momentum to further push us in the right direction.