Today is the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. As we take time to reflect on the multitude of events that took place in the aftermath, it is important to remember — Floyd did not make a sacrifice. He did not choose to give his life in hopes that his death would lead to a national racial reckoning that would catapult our nation, and a large part of the world, into a summer of protest. George Floyd wanted to live. He literally pleaded for his life. He is not a martyr. He is a victim.
In reflecting on Floyd’s death at the hands of Derek Chauvin, and the resulting protests and supposed U.S. “racial awakening,” it is hard for me to find a bright spot for this column. Police continue to kill citizens at the same rate they did before Floyd’s murder. In fact, since George Floyd was killed last year, 1,068 more people have been killed by police in the United States. According to data collected by the Washington Post, police have consistently shot and killed about 1,000 people per year since 2015. In 2021, we are currently on track to continue that fatal trend. And despite the nationwide movement in the wake of Floyd’s death calling to defund the police, many major municipalities, some of which vowed to defund, have failed to do so or defunded at miniscule rates.
I can’t describe the wave of emotion I experienced hearing the reading of the verdict. Guilty on all counts. I had spent so much energy refusing to believe justice would be served that I never allowed myself to even consider the idea that Chauvin would be found guilty of all charges. Now that it has happened, I’m in shock.
After about 10 hours of deliberation, the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial found Chauvin, the officer who was filmed with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, guilty on charges of third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was followed by both cheers and tears from those awaiting the decision outside the courthouse in Minneapolis.