A Nation’s Admission of Guilt: Derek Chauvin guilty on all three charges for the murder of George Floyd


Danielle O’Brien, Staff

Victor J. Blue/The New York Times
A group of protestors gathers beside a sign that reads “Justice for George Floyd Justice Served” after receiving news of the jury’s verdict for the George Floyd case.

April 20, 2021 will be a date that will be remembered as former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty for all three charges of second and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. After almost a year since the murder of George Floyd, suffocated by Chauvin’s knee for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, a ruling was finally made, signifying a long overdue holding of accountability of the racial injustice in today’s criminal justice system. 

Nevertheless, while justice for George Floyd indicates the victory of one battle, there is undoubtedly still injustice for victims of police brutality that have not had their day in court, such as Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and so many more. While police brutality has always been an issue within the United States, it is only after the verdict of this case that it has been made clear: nobody is above the law. The verdict of the case finds Chauvin to be the first white police officer to be found guilty of murdering a civilian in Minneapolis. While this fact in itself describes the state of the American criminal justice system, the case may have political implications to truly make a change in preventing horrors like these from happening again.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 has been introduced for the Senate to pass, promoted by the family of George Floyd and even the President and Vice President of the United States on National TV. The legislation, if passed, would reform the policing system as the bill seeks to end the disproportion at which people of color are being killed by the criminal justice system. The bill seeks to accomplish this by ending no-knock warrants which contributed to the death of Breonna Taylor, as well as the chokeholds which evidently killed Eric Garner and George Floyd. Furthermore, the act calls for ending racial and religious profiling by law enforcement officers, racial profile training and educating officers about the different communities they serve, requiring the wearing of body cams and, most importantly, investigating police misconduct and holding such misconduct accountable through court. The act, passed by Congress on March 3, 2021, would introduce improvements to prevent racial discrimination witnessed in the justice system, nevertheless, it will face an uphill battle to pass through Senate. 

In his address to the nation regarding the verdict of the case and discussing the implications of the bill, President Joe Biden stated, “but we can’t stop here, in order to deliver real change and reform, we can and we must do more to reduce the likelihood that tragedies like this will ever happen and occur again… to ensure the Black and brown or anyone so they don’t fear interactions with law enforcement, that they don’t have to wake up knowing that they can lose their lives in the course of just living their life.” Here, Biden is referring to the legislation helped put forth by his own Vice President. “(Our) administration’s priorities to root out unconstitutional policing and reform our criminal justice system, and they deserve to be confirmed, we also need Congress to act. George Floyd was murdered almost a year ago. There’s meaningful police reform legislation in his name, you just heard the vice president speak of it, she helped write it…legislation to tackle systemic misconduct in police departments to restore trust between law enforcement and the people that are entrusted to serve and protect.” President Biden, in his speech to the nation concerning the act, hints at the struggle it may face in its journey to become law. This demonstrates that while the verdict reached by the trial is pivotal for minorities victimized by police brutality, as well as promoting that police officers can be charged for their crimes, legislation is not promised to pass which would prevent instances of police brutality from occurring again or at least with consequence. 

It is unfortunate that the murder of a human being must be politicized to prevent further instances of police brutality that disproportionally affect minorities in this country or even that legislation that would reform such a system is not assured. The future can only tell if the act will pass. While the politicians of the congress and senate would establish a connection to the communities most affected by police brutality in passing the act, the tensions between constituents prohibit progress concerning the subject and further politicalizes police brutality yet refuses to solve it through legislation and change. Nevertheless, hopes are high that the verdict of this case will cause a sea of change in politics concerning the racist undertones of today’s criminal system, and that, as a result, the act will pass with flying colors. Nevertheless, with one win in the pocket of Americans, time will only tell if it is a winning or losing streak to come.

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