This story was originally published at Prism.
A single cop has been held accountable, but the lethally unjust system of policing that enabled George Floyd’s murder grinds on undeterred. Barely an hour after the Hennepin County, Minnesota, jury read out the guilty verdict against Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, news came that police in Columbus, Ohio, had snuffed out yet another Black life, fatally shooting 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. Even as white liberals like Nancy Pelosi and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey busied themselves shoehorning the Chauvin verdict into America’s hackneyed post-racism redemption story, Bryant’s needless death—along with that of Adam Toledo, Daunte Wright, and countless others before her—put the lie to any notion that Floyd’s unwilling “sacrifice” had bought any measure of real justice or peace.
As long as American policing endures in its current form, the movement to save Black lives continues. After the verdict was read in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Statesman-Recorder reported:
“One activist, saying that the work is far from over, entreated the crowd to chant ‘Reopen All the Cases’ and invited them to join families who have lost loved ones to police violence in Washington, D.C. on August 28 to demand that police be prosecuted in all cases of police violence.
Toshira Garraway of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence reminded the crowd that there are lots of other victims of police violence. ‘For every well-known name and victim of police violence there are hundreds of others,’ shouted Garraway, urging the crowd to help those families get justice too. She specifically asked for support in efforts to reopen the case of her fiancé, Justin Tiegen, killed by St. Paul police over 10 years ago.”
And apart from the guilty verdict, locally Floyd’s murder has already fundamentally changed Minnesota, as reported by the Sahan Journal:
“[It] galvanized organizing in communities of color. Immigrant business owners, frustrated by a lack of police protection, started their own community patrols. Students of color demanded their schools cut ties with police—and often won. This week, Minnesota students joined an almost unprecedented statewide walkout.
The movement for Black lives resonated across Minnesota’s diverse ethnic groups: Asian Minnesotans organized their own communities to understand anti-Black racism. Young Somalis, embracing their Black identity, stepped forward in solidarity with African Americans. Immigrants from East African backgrounds cited their experience joining the George Floyd protests to lead demonstrations for Oromo rights.
And the movement spurred changes at the state legislature, from a police reform bill last summer to a push to increase teachers of color in Minnesota classrooms.”
Pushes for reform continue at the state and local levels, including a grassroots campaign to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Department of Public Safety.
As the civil unrest sparked by Floyd’s murder swept the country last summer, similar calls for reform or wholesale abolition of the police rose up within Black communities and other communities of color. Those calls have continued to resonate, emphasizing how Black-led activism has fundamentally reshaped the discourse around policing and public safety in America. But until reality catches up with the rhetoric, Black lives remain at grave risk. One single guilty verdict may be a step in the right direction, but there are miles yet to go.
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