Finally, the verdict on the police killing of Afro-American George Floyd has been issued and was handed down on 20 April 2021, in the court of Minneapolis. The white former police officer Derek Chauvin officer was found guilty by the jury on three counts, including second-degree murder.
For the first time in US history, the established jurisprudence acknowledges and acts upon racially motivated attacks by police officers against the black population. The tragic death was documented on a video, which went viral and shows the 46-year-old George Floyd pleading for his life as he was pinned to the ground for more than nine minutes under the full force of the knee of the ex-police officer Derek Chauvin. Filled with outrage, the global public watched as the unarmed George Floyd suffered an agonizingly lingering death.
The verdict will serve as a precedent for similar forthcoming incidents. The date, 20 April 2021, will go down in history as a sign of hope and strength, proving that the outcry of the transnational Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, nationwide protests, and the mobilization of the public in the struggle for a more egalitarian society and future can evoke effective changes. It also shows that human rights violations, racism and police violence in their own right will no longer be tolerated.
In his annual State of the Union Address (SOTU) and first joint address as US President to the US Congress on 28 April Joe Biden proclaimed: “Now is our opportunity to make some real progress.” He explains the urgent matter and highest priority to root out systemic racism in the US criminal justice system now, alluding to a new police reform, namely the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021. This is intended to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing. He furthermore expressed his full commitment to seeing the bill passed before the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death on 25 May 2021.
The 45-year-old ex-police officer Derek Chauvin faces a sentence of up to 40 years in prison. The sentencing hearing will take place on 16 June 2021.
This is the first time a white police officer has been convicted of murdering a Person of Color (PoC) in Minnesota. This turning point in history is considered monumental and is borne out of intense efforts of the BLM movement. In this manner, a new era in the struggle to abolish hegemonic power structures and repressive violence against non-white people was ushered in.
Can we now collectively breathe a sigh of relief that the righteous court decision was made, and justice prevailed this time? Today’s outcome represents a gloomy victory for George Floyd, his family members, as well as for the legacy of Dr. Julius Nyerere, who even before he became the first president of independent Tanganyika (now the United Republic of Tanzania), remarked that he would not rest until the last bastion of white supremacy was eradicated.
Luisa Schneider/Bob Hooda
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