Earlier today, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd, and this moment is full of mixed emotions -- relief, anger, and sadness, to name a few. While the verdict delivers accountability, a racist criminal and policing system remains intact. George Floyd should still be alive today. His life should not have been taken from him in the first place, nor the lives of countless Black people who have died at the hands of police.
Just in the past six months in Virginia, Ellis ‘Buck’ Frye, Xzavier Hill, Donald Hairston, and Donovan Lynch faced the same execution at the hands of law enforcement. There was no opportunity for due process -- they were all presumed guilty and given a death sentence. How many hashtags with someone’s name attached can we put on our social media before we decide enough is enough?
Certainly, elected officials need to pass laws to hold police officers accountable to these heinous acts. But we cannot sit on the sidelines and wait for legislators to pass bills -- we elected them to work for us, and they need to know where we stand. Taxpayer dollars need to go towards effective and meaningful change. Investing in mental health resources, housing and education, as well as ending qualified immunity and addressing the root causes of the criminalization of marginalized communities are better solutions, not putting more police officers on the street or buying military grade equipment for police departments.
Last summer, thousands of outraged Virginians marched in the street to protest against the countless lynchings of Black Americans, and we cannot allow their deaths to be in vain. Our work does not stop here; until there is a meaningful overhaul of our criminal legal system and law enforcement, our communities will continue to march in the streets and through the halls of power to demand change and justice for all of us.