Yesterday I cried.
The tears that streamed down my face weren’t tears of joy; they were tears of relief.
Relief that the man who murdered George Floyd was convicted. After deliberating for about 10 hours, the jury came back with a guilty verdict on all three counts — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. I’ve been worried about the outcome of the trial since it began. I was on pins and needles when jury deliberations began.
I want to be clear about the kind of tears I shed. As I said, these were not tears of joy. This isn’t a situation where there’s joy. A man died — senselessly. A daughter lost her father. A brother lost his brother. Family members and friends lost a loved one for no reason. You’re never going to convince me that possibly paying for goods with a counterfeit $20 bill is grounds for death. You’re also never going to convince me that George Floyd died from anything other than someone kneeling on his neck for more than 9 minutes. Because I respect this publication, I won’t say how I really feel about those who mock or suggest there was another cause of death. Blocking someone’s air passageway leads to death. Period. To suggest anything else is callous and inhumane.
My tears weren’t tears of joy because, we’re not done. Chauvin’s guilty verdict was but one case of police brutality. I have a few theories on why Chauvin was found guilty, most importantly being that his actions were brutal, appalling and shameful. He couldn’t hide behind the excuse of fearing for his life. He couldn’t hide behind any excuse. It showed he just didn’t care and seeing someone torture another human being in that way was too much for many Americans. Hearing George Floyd cry out for his mother touched many people who never paid attention to police brutality.
By the way, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, George Floyd didn’t sacrifice his life for justice. George Floyd didn’t have a choice in his death. He wasn’t actively fighting for justice at the time of his death. George Floyd didn’t deserve to die, which is why I have a problem saying justice was served.
So, while I’m relieved George Floyd’s family “won,” this isn’t a victory. He’s still dead and the system hasn’t changed. As pundits talked on TV shows, politicians spoke and think pieces were written about this verdict and its impact on systemic racism, Columbus, Ohio, was reeling from the death of a teenage Black girl killed by the police. The police in Columbus, Ohio, have been on a roll when it comes to killing Black people. You may remember Casey Goodson, 23, was killed at the entrance of his home in December, and Andre Hill, 47, was killed just two weeks later.
When it comes to justifying Black people killed by the police, those who back the police always point out any criminal behavior by the victim, non-compliance, the police being in fear (as if the victim isn’t fearful), cops doing a difficult job and how they just want to go home at the end of the day (as if the victims don’t want to go home as well). However, I’ve never heard anyone justify why when white criminals actually jeopardize the life of officers, they walk away in handcuffs. (Folks always have a lot to say about Black people.) A recent video on social media showed a white man in Minnesota hitting a police officer with a hammer and dragging the officer with his truck. The hammer-wielding man had an altercation with an employee at a home improvement store. He refused to wear a mask and hit the employee with a piece of lumber. He fled, and in addition to hitting and dragging a cop, he rammed his truck into two police cars. He’s alive and well. It’s just another example of the cops not shooting a white person.
Before the Chauvin verdict was announced, I planned to write my column about the mass shooting at FedEx. Something must be done besides sending our heartfelt condolences, thoughts and prayers to victims’ families. It’s become cliché. Lawmakers need to get some courage and stand up to the National Rifle Association to legislate gun laws that keep Americans safe. And I don’t mean encouraging every American to start packing. If we haven’t figured it out by now — which we really should have — everyone doesn’t need a gun. We need to make it more difficult for people to get a gun than easier. We could at least make it more difficult for people to get assault rifles and machine guns. Other than ego, I’m not sure why a civilian needs an arsenal.
According to Gun Violence Archive, 150 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. in 2021. We’re only in the fourth month of the year. I remember a time when mass shootings weren’t a normal occurrence. Now, we’ve moved on to the next one before the previous victims are even buried. It shouldn’t take losing a loved one to make you care. Don’t you wonder why other western “civilized” countries aren’t experiencing mass shootings at the rate we do in “the best country in the world”?