This article appeared in the April 21, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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What we learned from the Derek Chauvin trial

Brian Inganga/AP
A local resident stands next to a mural painted in June 2020 showing George Floyd with the Swahili word "Haki," or "Justice," in the Kibera low-income neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya, April 21, 2021. The guilty verdict in the Floyd trial was not just America's victory. It signaled hope for those seeking racial justice and fighting police brutality across the Atlantic.

As we digest the rare guilty verdict for a police officer in the death of Black man, three things stand out in the Derek Chauvin trial.  

• First, the unified stand taken by Minneapolis police. There was no code of silence, no corrupt brotherhood of the badge. Rather, we saw multiple officers construct a blue wall of integrity. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that what former officer Chauvin did was “not part of our training, and is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

• Second, the wisdom of putting on the stand a 9-year-old girl who had witnessed George Floyd’s death. Even a child, jurors were told, understood Mr. Chauvin’s behavior was wrong. 

• Third, the composition of the jury: six white jurors, and six Black or multiracial people. Seven were women; five were men. They included a nurse, an immigrant, an auditor, and a grandmother. This was a jury of America – and it reached a united conclusion.

Still, a man died under the knee of a cop. “I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said after the verdict. “But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice.” 

Yes, a first step. This case alone won’t transform the U.S. criminal justice system. But it produced a seismic impulse for humanity to confront racial inequality (more on that below). And in a court of law, George Floyd’s life mattered.

This article appeared in the April 21, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/21 edition
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