Story at a glance:
- Derek Chavin’s guilty conviction has provided some semblance of relief to Black people.
- The jury’s decision is a reminder of how difficult it is to enact enduring change and address systemic problems, Minnesota’s attorney general Keith Ellison said.
- There is now a national investigation into Minnesota policing policies, headed by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
There is a sense of faith in the justice system and relief for Black Americans — even if momentary or fleeting, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
The conviction of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer who murdered George Floyd, a Black man, over an alleged petty crime, has opened the possibility of convicting similar law enforcement officers accused of brutalizing Black people.
People around the world have watched the nearly 10-minute video of Chauvin suffocating Floyd, and for a year, millions awaited Chauvin’s day in court and the jury’s decision.
There was anxiety over how the jury would determine the case. The killing of Floyd in May 2020 renewed the Black Lives Matter movement both in the United States and around the world, bringing people into the streets to protest and opening the door for policy changes and accountability.
Keith Ellison, Minnesota's first Black attorney general, said the jury’s decision serves as a reminder of the difficulty of enacting lasting change and preventing “the kind of upheaval and civil unrest that ignited the nation and the world last summer,” AP reports.
For now, the verdict not only relieved Black Americans but brought restored peace — there does not seem to be a mass protest in the pipeline.
"This may be the beginning of the restoration of believing that a justice system can work," said civil rights leader Martin Luther King III, son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., known for preaching peaceful protest. "But we have to constantly stay on the battlefield in a peaceful and nonviolent way and make demands.”
"This has been going on for years and one case, one verdict, does not change how systematic racism has worked in our system,” he added.
Brandon Williams, a nephew of Floyd's, said the verdict is a "pivotal moment for America."
"It's something this country has needed for a long time now," he said. "We need each and every officer to be held accountable. And until then, it's still scary to be a Black man and woman in America encountering police."
Not far from where Chauvin’s trial took place, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by former Brooklyn Center, Minn., officer Kim Potter, who says she mistook her gun for a Taser.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Department of Justice is operating an investigation into policing practices in Minneapolis after Chauvin's conviction.
The investigation will look into police practices, including what kind of force is being used and how the department engages with Black people.
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