A jury in Minnesota has decided that Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd nearly a year ago, was guilty of two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter.
Chauvin deserves the sentence that he will get, and likely more. I am pleased with this verdict, and I hope it will in some small way bring a measure of peace to George Floyd’s family.
My fear, though, is that this singular instance of limited justice will overshadow the larger truth: the system is still utterly broken. In the coming days we will likely see measured statements from Joe Biden and other liberal politicians, who will likely praise the prosecutors and even police department that enabled Chauvin for “doing the right thing.” I would not be surprised to see Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo lauded personally for his testimony, which was as damning of Chauvin’s conduct as someone who was also at fault for it could be.
Since Chauvin’s trial began more than three people have been killed by police every day. That one cop will now go to jail is not a “back to brunch” moment. The people who killed Breonna Taylor, the other name that crowds across the country chanted all last summer, are still free. One of them recently got a book deal, which was only scrapped by Simon and Schuster after immense public outcry. This summer there are already so many more names to chant. Daunte Wright’s killer is out on bail and living in a home fortified by her fellow officers. Adam Toledo’s killer is on paid administrative leave. If anyone, anyone, uses the verdict delivered today as evidence that justice is still alive in America you can dismiss their opinion out of hand. It took over 11 months and an exhausting trial to deliver one shred of justice for one officer guilty of an egregious crime while surrounded by other members of the force who are supposed to protect human life. That it took this much effort and protest and national attention to hold one single beat cop accountable is a national disgrace, and the fact that the broken clock of American justice was right today doesn’t mean we should trust it for one more second than it deserves.