*One year ago today, millions of people worldwide watched the murder of a then unknown African American man, George Floyd, at the knee of a then unknown White former Minneapolis policeman, Derek Chauvin. The video, taken by teenage eyewitness, Darnella Frazier, presented a scene of utter disbelief for millions, and yet sadly confirmed what millions of others already knew, and many, experienced.
Today’s “anniversary” of George Floyd’s murder will be marked by gatherings, speeches and meetings, the most high-profile of which will be held at the White House, hosted by President Biden.
May 25 was also the target date for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to arrive on the president’s desk for his signature. Although passed by the U.S. House, it is stalled as negotiations continue on a bill to go before the Senate.
Change often happens at a snail’s pace and nowhere is that more true in working to change policies and laws like policing in the United States. But that’s difficult for many to accept in a fast moving world where an item can be ordered from Amazon and delivered four hours later.
There is hope. From Washington,D.C. to Minneapolis and beyond, protesters and activists have called for change in police department policies. Some 3,000 policing-related bills have been introduced in state legislatures. More than 30 states have passed some sort of policing reform.
This includes the state of Washington. Calling it a “moral mandate,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a dozen bills into law last week that backers hope will improve policing in the state, reduce the use of deadly force and ensure that when deadly encounters do occur, the investigations are thorough and independent.
The Washington state legislature passed the police accountability measures in response to national and local calls to reform policing following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In Washington, the death of Manuel Ellis at the hands of Tacoma police in March 2020 also galvanized reform efforts.
Other state governments and cities are working to enforce new use of force policies, including banning the use of chokeholds and neck restraints and updating, often implementing, the use of body cameras.
The sweeping calls for “Justice Now!“ continue to echo throughout this country. In the year following Mr. Floyd ‘s murder, the investigations and court cases of untold numbers of people of color, drag on. Derek Chauvin’s murder trial was an exception, not the rule. The speed at which the state of Minnesota brought and amended charges against the former Minneapolis police officer, conducted his trial, and convicted him, was considered breakneck, compared to other municipalities and states.
President Biden and others have quoted Gianna, the young daughter of George Floyd. The little girl said, “My Daddy changed the world!”
Yes, sadly Gianna, in the span of less than 10 minutes, your Daddy did change the world. One year later, may the world stop to pay its respects to your family and the memory of your Daddy. But then the work continues. This world must change. It must evolve, in order to save the lives of other George Floyds, Breonna Taylors, Manuel Ellises, Reginald Greenes and countless others.
Say Their Names. But in addition, work to change the system.
source: Sybil Wilkes