This is the kind of post I’d normally be writing using fictional, sometimes superhero characters from films and TV shows. But this week, they’re all actual real life people involved with this horrific tragedy. They made difficult, courageous choices instead of pretending to not see or understand.
I’m also making assumptions that they were able to take good ENOUGH care of themselves to stay strong, focused and keep that outcome in mind.
I was so relieved that Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd on all three counts last night. And horrified that, in spite of the world having seen video evidence of the sadistic murder, in broad daylight, over 9 minutes and 29 seconds that it took so long and that the verdicts were far from a foregone conclusion.
As if the initial video of 8 minutes and 46 seconds hadn’t been horrific enough.
It’s a step in the right direction but George (Floyd and, here in Ireland, George Nkencho) should still be alive. As should so many other women and men.
Don’t look away
Can you imagine if Darnella Frazier hadn’t had the courage and presence of mind to FILM the murder? This teenage girl changed the world.
The murderer looked right into the camera at times and she stood firm, filming and doing the thing that it was possible for her to do in the moment. I imagine all of the bystanders wanted to do MORE. They’ll likely be haunted for the rest of their lives but also know that they STAYED, they TRIED to help George Floyd, they did everything they could to stop his murder and they courageously revisted the trauma to testify.
As Jerry Blackwell of the phenomenal Prosecution team said, they were a ‘bouquet of humanity.’
Ordinary people of different ages and races, thrown together witnessing a brutal murder. Passer bys stopped, cars driving past stopped, emergency professionals called the police on the police. They knew that what they were seeing was wrong and they bravely bore witness to it.
Avoid false opposition narratives
White supremacist insurrectionists used Blue Lives Matter flags to brutally beat police officers at the Capitol on 6th January.
No one has ever suggested that police lives don’t. They do a job I couldn’t dream of. But awful as it is when police officers are killed, their killers are brought to justice. Can you imagine a 9.29 minute video evidence of a murder of a police officer resulting in nearly a year and actual relief that there is, at least accountability here?
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey pointed out that the verdict SUPPORTS the good police officers.
It’s not us and them.
We’re all connected.
We all know right from wrong.
We all know injustice and need to speak out.
This case was unusual in that so many police officers, trainers (and the police chief) spoke out, breaking ‘the blue line’, saying (am paraphrasing), NO. Murder is not what we are trained to do. Their courage in resisting peer pressure helped to bring about the conviction as the Prosecution team were able to be very clear that this was not a case against the police but against Derek Chauvin.
I practically stood up in my living room to applaud the Prosecution team. Jerry Blackwell in particular. My head would be spinning at the outrageous claims made by the Defense and Blackwell was magnificent, professional, poised, articulate and deadly (in a GOOD way).
The whole prosecution team did an amazing job and, as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said, the team was assembled with collaboration in mind. (It reminded me of the magnificent Impeachment Managers).
He talked about them passing the ball and said that:
Do the right thing
I hope, one day, to see a film based on the jury deliberations. As commentators kept pointing out, getting 12 people to agree on ANYTHING is difficult. It was a no brainer to me (I was shocked it took them so LONG) but I appreciate that they were under an enormous amount of pressure.
Unlike many elected officials during the 2nd Impeachment Trial, this jury was attentive, taking notes, respecting the process.
It’s totally natural for us to fear being different, speaking out against the group, going against the majority. We’re wired to fear exile as, for our ancient ancestors, it would have meant certain death. Even now, it’s a fear for many.
As Martin Luther King, Jr, said:
Use whatever platform you have wisely
I, a white looking person, in Ireland, am always in awe watching the Floyd family and, sadly, too many families in similar positions. Such strength, dignity, compassion and love when we, the world should be holding space to allow THEM to rail at the injustice of it all. Instead, they wisely called for calm, for trust in the justice system.
As Keith Ellison said, ‘Over the last year, they had to relive, again and again and again, the worst day of their lives when they lost their brother, their father, their friend…
I hope they finally ARE able to get a good night’s sleep knowing that at least accountability has been served.
Amber Ruffin put it (and so many other things) beautifully in her and Lacey Lamar’s gorgeous (horrifying and hilarious) book about racism, You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey (Grand Central Publishing, 2021):
‘I never tell white people that story because they can’t frigging stand hearing it. Honestly, they look like they’re in pain as they’re listening to me tell it and are annoyed that they have to carry this information around with them. I have never been able to understand why white people have such a low tolerance for hearing about racism. I mean, we have to live it! The least you could do is nod your head.’
Remember that what you do matters
We all have choices in every given moment. Our lives may feel very ordinary but remember that, as a 9 year old recognised, if she hadn’t spent the day pestering her cousin Darnella Frazier to take her to the store to get Starbucks, if had been another time, another day…