Tuesday, a jury in Minnesota found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd last May.
It was a murder recorded by a witness using her hand-held phone, demonstrating the power of this technology. What would have happened if we did not have that video?
The murder of George Floyd launched a summer of protest we hadn’t seen since the Civil Rights era— protests that unified people to say, “Enough.”
The verdict is a step forward. But we should also be clear that such a verdict is also much too rare. For so many, particularly black and brown people, it feels like this is a long time coming for the judicial system to deliver a just decision in this one case.
The prosecution laid out a clear and compelling case that included police officers standing up and testifying, and the jury of diverse persons found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In the legal case, the prosecutors sought to make this case about just this case. They were seeking to hold one person accountable.
And yet, this verdict cannot be underestimated in its broader significance. It is a step in the long painful struggle of racial disparity in this country. Yet, we should be mindful that it should not be viewed as a final act accompanied by an attitude of “this is fixed now.”
I know from my conversations with persons of color that they all too often have found themselves pulled over in their car, their bike or walking down the street for no clearly explained reason. Living with this fear weighs on them heavily. And candidly, it’s hard for white people to imagine. We have a difficult time putting ourselves in their situation in our mind’s eye.
It is for that reason that I am so pleased to see the many congregations of this New England Synod engaged in efforts to understand and act on matters of racism. I know these are challenging conversations. But they are important steps for us as we seek to live into our calling as disciples of Christ. May the efforts continue.
Previously Published on jameshazelwood.net
Leonhard Lenz CC License