What the Chauvin verdict really means

Considering the news, I hope you will understand and bear with me as I get a bit personal. I have lived to see some incredible things. In my first legal job, I used an IBM Selectric to complete my work. I watched as technology brought us computers and all the gadgets we enjoy today. Even as I watched that progress, there were two things that I never thought I would see: a Black man in the White House and seeing accountability for the murder of a Black man killed by a white man. Both have come to pass, and I am feeling reflective.

As I watched the Floyd family speak after the trial, Reverend Al Sharpton said something that was in my own heart: We do not celebrate a man going to jail; we celebrate consequences in America for the killing of a Black man, something we have not often seen. We have repeatedly witnessed Black men killed by police with no consequences, even during the civil rights movement when law enforcement released vicious dogs on peaceful protesters, and when that did not work, they pulled out their Billy clubs and beat them, some until they were almost dead. There were no repercussions. As we have recently watched our society begin gravitating toward the past, we knew in our hearts that, once again, there would be no repercussions. The verdict in Derek Chavin’s trial gives us hope.

For perhaps the first time for many Blacks, we feel that our lives do matter, and that if you needlessly take our lives, you will pay. It is hard not to feel celebratory, even in the face of such a grim subject matter. It feels that the tables are turning, and we can begin to heal and seek equality in this society. Do not misunderstand me. This is only the beginning; we have a lot of work to do, just as President Biden said in his speech following the verdict. As for Derek Chauvin, he will appeal the verdict, but that is not what is important. The fact that he has been convicted is the hope we need to move our society in the right direction.

As the family stood in the hallway of the courthouse following the verdict, they took a phone call from one who wanted to wish them well, President Joe Biden. The press was raising hell over Biden’s earlier call to the family, telling them he found the evidence overwhelming and hoped the jury reached the right verdict. There was nothing wrong with President Biden’s call. The jury was already out, and he could have no influence on them. That call came from his heart, as did the call after the verdict. As evidenced by these calls and his speech, President Biden continues to show that he is the right man for the job at the right time. President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the verdict in this case have me hoping that, as Sam Cooke sang all those years ago, a change is gonna come. It may be slow, but it is coming.

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