April 20, 2021
I had no idea how much I was holding my breath and holding everything in until I heard that the jury in the trial of Police Officer Derek Chauvin had reached a verdict. I furiously began checking news sites, only to find that yes, a verdict had been reached but we still had to wait for the jurors to return to the courtroom. Longest 45 minutes EVER! Pundit after pundit weighing in on what a quick verdict must mean. Clearly a unanimous agreement had been reached, given the short deliberation. It couldn’t possibly be innocent, given all that we’d seen. Or could it?
Judge Cahill began to speak. I realized I'm sitting, literally holding my breath, hands to my face. Guilty. Thank God! Second count. Guilty. Oh my God! It’s really happening. Third count. Guilty. I breathe. In approximately 10 hours, 12 jurors have decided that a reasonable person would not hold their knee to another person’s neck as he pleaded for his life. “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. Momma. Momma. I’m going to die…..” George Floyd calling for his mother always got me. I imagined the panic, the knowing, this is it.
Much has already been said about today’s guilty verdict. I wouldn’t begin to say I have an idea what this means to people of color. I agree that this isn’t exactly justice, but it is accountability. And that is one giant first step.
I am so proud of Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, who did not mince words regarding today’s guilty verdict. This is merely a beginning. There is much work to be done to right systemic wrongs. Walz rightfully called out white privilege. He said we cannot be proud of our white students' advanced standings when our black students come in dead last. He called out power; no one is beneath the law and no one is above the law. Change must be afoot.
Today the Minneapolis metro area is breathing a sigh of relief. George Floyd is still dead. Daunte Wright is still dead. But today, there is at least a glimmer of hope for change.