Power of Two is grateful to the men and women of the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial who found officer Chauvin guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd. As your partner in community, we know the long standing legacy of police brutality and lethal use of force that is experienced by the members of our communities.
While we are grateful that Derek Chauvin was held accountable for his actions, we also know that the outcome would very likely have been different if not for the extraordinary confluence of factors that made a conviction a possibility, yet far from guaranteed. Were it not for the technology that made recording the murder possible and the courage of Darnella Frazier who at 17 years old had the presence of mind to record the craven disregard for human life that we all witnessed in the video, Derek Chauvin would very likely be a free man today.
Through our partnership with families we know that justice is not and can not truly be done until BIPOC people are no longer targets of the indiscriminate use of lethal force by police. Addressing the systemic racism of an institution that is meant to protect us, but too often targets us instead, means that we must confront the systems of oppression and white supremacy that leads to the deaths of so many BIPOC people at the hands of law enforcement. These systems of oppression are enabled by the exalted nature that law enforcement enjoys and abuses in our country. Police officers know that their use of lethal force will be deemed innocent unless proven guilty, and to prove guilt there must be an abundance of irrefutable evidence and, too often, the unassailable character of its victims. The continued narrative of an infallible police force has an ever escalating death toll even as convictions for these deaths remain the exception and not the norm.
Heartbreakingly, even as we stood in short-lived gratitude for Chauvin’s conviction, our hearts were seized in pain and horror once again as we heard the news of the lethal shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant. She lost her life at the same time that the verdict was being read and her name is now added to the long list of BIPOC children, men and women whose lives were extinguished by those meant and paid to protect and serve. We see and experience firsthand the historical, intergenerational trauma that police interactions have left within our communities. Each new murder reignites that trauma and reminds us that there is still so much work to be done. We were hopeful that this conviction of Chauvin by a jury of his peers would be a line of demarcation that paves the way for a more just society, one in which the police forces around the country no longer have the ability to kill with impunity. However, we know that our work must continue for all past BIPOC victims of deadly police interactions.
Darnella is right. It’s not about what she should’ve done in that moment. It was what Derek Chauvin should’ve done. He should have valued George Floyd’s life just as much as his own. That is the work that lies ahead of us. For law enforcement and other systems in the United States to also value the inherent humanity of BIPOC people and for the perception of infallibility by law enforcement coupled with the systemic racism that rots at the core of policing to be extinguished. But as Fred Hampton said in his speech in 1969 we must work together. “We’re going to fight racism not with racism, but we’re going to fight with solidarity.”
Co-Founder and Executive Director