Waking up to hear that the police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges against him on the murder George Floyd felt like a victory at last for the black community not only in The United States of America but in the world at large. It was a long time coming considering that George Floyd is the first black man being killed by a police officer in America. The questions that begged for answers were “Why is policing in a black community so much different from policing in white communities? Why do Police treat blacks differently from whites?”
The video of how George Floyd died from Derek Chauvin’s knee to his neck went viral. And to make matters worse, George does not seem to be resisting arrest and he was also unharmed. This video set off unrest over the law enforcement treatment of colored people and started the whole black lives matter movement. It became symbolic worldwide with even footballers taking a knee with a pumped-up fist to signify the manner in which George Floyd was killed.
Yes like a lot of people have pointed out times without numbers, George Floyd was not particularly a saint. He got in trouble with the authorities quite a number of times but this does not give police the right to take his life like it was premeditated. What about his children and loved ones left behind? What do they have? And it suffices to say “Two wrongs do not make a right”. He should have been tried according to the law not killed on sight. After all, that is what the law is for.
The death of George underneath the knee of Derek did not only bring about an awakening towards racism but also a call towards reforming the police unit or system. The call of reforming the police unit/system did not end only in America, it also influenced and set a tone for countries like Nigeria to call for the reformation of the police system in Nigeria also. And in no time, Nigerian youths took to the streets to protest against police brutality, bad governance, and many more under the #EndSARS. Although it seems the voice of Nigerian youths might be silenced, on the contrary, most youths are aware that revolution is a marathon, not a sprint race and the struggle continues.
Back in The United States of America where it is rare for Police officers to be convicted of crimes, the world was very much interested in this particular trial.
Charles P. Wilson, Chair of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers was quoted saying “This trial was the most consequential event in police-community relations that we are going to see for a long time”.
It is no news that the publicity the case got as a high profile case with the emotions and opinions of the crowd and observers played a key role in the Jury convicting Derek Chauvin on all three charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter but to many, it is a victory to the people. Not just colored people but believers in the justice system. Because a verdict like this is a victory for justice. Ben Crump the Floyd Family’s lawyer believes it marked a turning point in history for the US. He tweeted “Painfully earned justice has finally arrived”.
In order to understand the full gravity of the verdict, keep in mind that in Minnesota, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder is up to 25 years in prison and second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and Derek Chauvin was found guilty in all three. He is looking to spend decades in prison for just taking a knee on the neck of George Floyd for about 9 seconds. Of course many expect him to appeal the case but nevertheless, this verdict gives hope to the common colored man on the streets of America who is likely to come in contact with a police officer with a gun. The verdict is an indication that every action has consequences and nobody including the law enforcers are above the law.
President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris also put a call through to Floyd’s family after the verdict with President Biden saying “at least now there is some justice”. The President remarked afterward on National T.V “Systemic racism is a stain on the whole nation’s soul”. The Vice-President Mrs. Harris has urged lawmakers to pass the George Floyd bill aimed at reforming the police in The United States.
The people all over the world including in Nigeria watched Derek Chauvin’s trial and rejoiced with the family of George Floyd, not because they feel what Floyd’s family is going through, but because it gives them hope. Hope that they also will get justice (no matter how far-fetched it may seem). It is hoped that as racism is exposed and talked about, tribalism and nepotism in this part of the world will also be deliberated upon. It is the hope that the voice of the #EndSARS protesters calling for reform in the police sector was not silenced and the lives lost were not in vain (They will forever be remembered).
I would love to talk about tribalism but for now, let us enjoy the deserved victory. And tomorrow we speak up about other social issues such as tribalism and feminism.