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Reaction to Derek Chauvin Verdict

There is little doubt that the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial is historic - in the result and in occurrence. It ranks up there with the likes of the OJ Simpson verdict, of which I was a young child, of which that I will always remember where I was, my feelings, and the aftermath. 

I wanted to let the moment, and even the loud aftershocks, settle before sharing my thoughts or writing this post. As you saw from news channels, columns, Twitter, and everywhere and anywhere else this verdict was discussed, the thoughts, opinions, and discourse became skewed, partisan, and unfortunately, a tool for various agendas. 

In many respects, the trial, and verdict further exposed so much of what we have to work on - away from the obvious of racial and systemic equality. 

Here are my quick thoughts and reaction on this entire ordeal: 

DURING THE TRIAL 

- I made a clear decision when the trial began to keep tabs on it only through text and print. Why? For me - and I'll urge that as you continue to read on - experiencing a live defense for Derek Chauvin would be emotionally too difficult for me. It was still tough in print, but the trauma for people of color that is carried from these events is a matter that is often overlooked. 

And of course, while this ordeal was captured on video, and Chauvin has a right to a fair trial before his peers, I never truly believed - not once - that there would be a full conviction. 

- Another reason for print/text-only? I found the coverage of the trial, as well as the importance of the trial, to vary among the news channels. We all know the partisan lines and agendas these stations carry, but it was rather interesting and revealing to see the extent of the coverage and the narratives from each of them. Again - for me - it revealed that so much of this situation, of which dates back to last year, still isn't as clear-cut as the video we horrifically watched. This isn't just about justice. There would still be political weight attached to this. 

I began preparing myself for that - regardless of the verdict. 

- I could not stop thinking about the seventeen-year-old with tremendous guts, courage, and instincts, Darnella Frazier. Darnella is responsible for the video that added visual evidence to what was once a blind area of privilege for so many. She's responsible for a video that gives us 9 minutes and 29 seconds of insight into broken accord between enforcement and communities of color. 

I could not stop thinking about her words on the stand during the trial of wishing she could have done more and how it haunts her to this day. The reality that she was behind that lens - in person, just mere feet away from this disgusting act - as George Floyd's life was being snuffed out by a knee to his neck, is something I continue to wrestle with.  

You wanna talk about carrying trauma? 

BEFORE THE VERDICT 


- As the news broke that the jury had wrapped up deliberating and a verdict was expected, I still didn't have a good feeling about it all. It's an odd feeling for some who may not understand, but even with all of the evidence, these trials have something - anything - that comes up to deter a full conviction. 

I also found myself tremendously apprehensive, nervous, and anxious awaiting the verdict. I began to wonder if this goes as it always goes, what would it take for justice to be served within this system? 

Who would ever have faith in this again? How can you? 

Quite frankly, I realized that I myself had very little faith in the system to do what is right, which says everything about said system - regardless of this trial. 

DURING THE VERDICT


- I don't think I took a breath during however long each of the verdicts were being read. I do remember simply awaiting and preparing myself to handle hearing "not guilty" at any moment. 

- I tried to digest the relief of the moment, but I recall it being VERY hard to do. For me, I had to gather myself to host a Zoom call based around "Anti-Asian Hate" for students - go figure. 

- There was a brief moment that I thought about the Floyd family and how they felt - because that ultimately is what mattered. Did they find peace in this? I ultimately pivoted to thinking about the families of others killed in the same manner who didn't get this moment. 

- Also, there was the mere look that was in Chauvin's eyes after hearing the verdict. The sudden head tilt and widening of the eyes spoke so loudly and clearly that he himself was not expecting what was said. 

- And yes, I felt more relief than I did a sense of "history being made" or some sort of "tide changing". 

The biggest and most moving piece about this verdict is accountability. 

AFTER THE VERDICT

- Of course, this is where things get disappointing on so many levels. I immediately saw texts come in on my phone from those who wanted to discuss. I also scouted Twitter for some type of pulse of the nation. And yes, I flipped through the "trusty" cable news networks. The word "historic" was used so often, and yet I found myself wondering how something so right, so just, and so obvious in nature, has rocked, shook, and caused uncomfortableness within our nation? This is historic. Imagine? 

- I was and still am disheartened and disappointed in the common theme from those who are close, as well as those who peddled the same thoughts through media channels - I am relieved for the verdict as I was afraid of what might happen. 

Yes, these were sentiments from mostly white people. And I'm not sure how to digest it, because in some ways I understand what they mean, and in other aspects, I see that it does come from a place of discomfort in truly understanding the pain in the balance of the moment - or at the very least, empathizing the pain at the moment. Wheeeewww, I dodged being uncomfortable again and having to examine race in our society!!

It does very much bother me that there are some who were more "relieved" for this verdict going the way it did than for the purpose of accountability and justice. It wasn't about progress or the discussion on moving forward and healing bridges, but in fact, in displacing the reasoning elsewhere - privilege and comfort. 

- Which of course leads me to the use of the verdict to push partisan agendas. It's a tired trope on both sides - yes both sides. What we experienced were narratives pushed in an attempt to dissect the moment and verdict through projections, deflection, and other division-based rhetoric to basically say - yeah, I'm happy for the verdict, but...

The real question is this, are you relieved for justice? Or relieved for comfort?
BTW - I watched Greg Gutfield's take live and it is tough to wrap the mind around. While every bit of it is infuriating, he was in fact being authentic and he was speaking for many who were thinking the same thing. As despicable and ugly as it was - there is genuine truth there for many Americans. That is part of this divide - and yes, part of this pain and justice. 

- The one aspect being missed in all of the post-verdict discussion and discourse, especially among those trying to move past this because it doesn't fit their political party's themes or agenda is this - this is personal for a lot of people. Again, this carries weight far beyond George Floyd. 

This is decades - centuries - of having to deal with questionable happenings and ignored experiences. But finally, thanks to individuals like Darnelle Frazier, this was on video, clear for the world to see. With very little room for reasonable doubt - as confirmed by a jury, and a visual for many exposing the belly of the beast that is this country. 

The lack of empathy in the aftermath of the verdict says so much about the place our country is in...or remains. 

And yes, by the way, can we stop using violence in Chicago as a defense whenever black people raise awareness of these issues. Again, it's such a tired trope. But sadly, many buy it. 

MOVING FORWARD 


- I truly don't believe this verdict will be historic in any sort of turning-point way. I hope I'm wrong, but one case isn't going to drum up belief in an experience I've had for a lifetime. Although, I hope I am wrong. 

- I briefly mentioned this is in last week's Sunday Sundown Rundown - while in Brooklyn I witnessed a police cruiser chase down what looked like a normal vehicle moving along. The driver pulled over at the traffic light in an intersection (super smart), the two officers exited their vehicle and began slamming the vehicle with their hands and sticks (intimidation?). The driver, an elder black man with children in the vehicle, put down all of his windows immediately. 

While in this busy intersection, suddenly I witnessed hands extend out of all of the cars at the intersection with phones directed at the situation. People, families, even children, stopping on the sidewalks and doing the same. 

The officers suddenly noticed, and what felt like a moment of realization, regressed on the behaviors they were engaging in, with one of the officers trying to get the crowd to disperse and stop filming. 

It was rather surreal. But it's the new norm. We have no idea what the stop was for or even the background of this situation but I expect it to become common to see citizen responsibility in these matters. There is going to be more of these situations - fortunately, and unfortunately. We've seen them already just this year.

Again, I'm not saying all cops are evil - far from. Not even true. It's just that things are slightly different now. And public accountability and camera phones are for the better. 

- President Biden and Vice President Harris are going to be held accountable for police reform. They are going to have to get it done. They have clearly made their positioning on this matter known throughout their campaign and once again following this verdict. Again, they are going to have to deliver. 

I can already see this topic rising on the list of important issues for the nation going into mid-term elections, local elections, and hanging on through to the next Presidential election. Somehow, I don't think the vague "Blue Lives Matter" or "Back the Blue" pro or anti narratives are going to be enough for a position of discussion. This topic is nuanced and detailed and such simple extremes should fall to the wayside. 

People of color are activated politically more than ever before - I just don't see simple narratives and slogans being bantered about as they were just a few months ago. I think there is an awareness of the institution of policymaking and the importance of representation for legislation, again, more than ever before. I fully expect these discussions, back-and-forth - whatever it is - to become more in-depth, and and at the same time, even more petty in nature. 

What does police reform mean? Let's spell it out. 

- And finally, I want to hear from the "good apples". We too often hear about the cops in these positions being "bad apples". Where are the good apples? They need to begin talking. Where is the accountability within law enforcement culture? That is a problem. Regardless of your stance on funding, training, measures, compliances...whatever. 

If cops are bad at their job, why is our system protecting them?

Until there is reason to believe that people of color can trust the police - with a solid foundation of accountability that can be relied upon, I very much don't see how this relationship gets any better. 

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