From the Black Wall Street Times Editorial Board
Exactly one year ago today, a teenage girl named Darnella Frazier displayed bravery in the face of police brutality. She stood and recorded the now-viral video of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin casually squeezing the life from George Perry Floyd Jr., and she shared it with the world – a choice that forever changed her life.
It was a choice that also changed America.
It’s not hard to picture a scenario where Floyd’s murder went unprosecuted. Activists fighting back against police brutality, racial profiling and law enforcement militarization have often felt ignored by the governmental powers that be. Without Frazier’s bravery, would we have seen the global uprising against injustice last summer? We think not.
Transformative policy change is needed
While the multiple convictions against Chauvin serve as one small step towards justice, the work continues. Black and Brown families across the nation still shoulder the unfair burden of explaining to their children how to stay safe when a police officer approaches them.
Countless civil suits seeking justice for lives lost are stuck in a revolving door of motions for continuance; legal maneuvers that delay accountability, that deflect from justice and that deprive victims of their human desire for restitution and repair.
A conviction is a sign of hope. Policy change would be a sign of progress, but the kind of progress that appeals to moderate voters won’t systemically address police killings in the U.S.
Just “getting something done” isn’t enough
Passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, including an end to qualified immunity, is non-negotiable. Efforts from elected officials to water down the bill are harmful attempts to placate systems of oppression. Anything less than a complete end to qualified immunity is a slap in the face to the legacies of civil rights leaders, such as the late Congressman John Lewis, who fought tirelessly for this country to recognize the full humanity of Black people – not three-fifths of it.
Progress looks like investments in community-led organizations, mental health resources, education in lower-socioeconomic status communities, health and wellness resources and restorative justice programs.
These goals demand our full attention. We honor the lives of George Floyd, Terence Crutcher, Breeona Taylor, Freddie Gray, Attatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Bennie Edwards, Laquan McDonald, and so many others by continuing to push for policy change. Solemnly, we honor their lives by clearly stating our demanded changes while we march in the streets. We honor their lives by holding elected officials accountable for the police departments over which they have authority.
One year has passed since George Perry Floyd Jr. was murdered. What has really changed?