Minutes before the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial, another Black person was killed by police. This time in Ohio. And this time it was a young girl.
Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, was shot and killed by a Columbus Police Department officer yesterday. Bodycam footage of the incident showed Bryant lunging at two people with a knife. Police were responding to a 911 call of a potential stabbing in the home of a resident who lived in the city’s southeast side.
Columbus Police Chief Michael Woods said the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) has opened an inquiry into the case. The unidentified officer, who appears to be white, will be removed from street patrol pending an investigation
Cop kills Black person. People cry foul. A trial begins. A verdict is read. Law enforcement is brought in preparing for unrest. Unrest ensues. However, one of those things didn’t happen and it’s a sigh of relief to many.
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in the second degree (unintentional killing while committing a felony), murder in the 3rd degree (perpetrating an eminently dangerous act and evincing a depraved mind) and manslaughter in the 3rd degree (culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk).
The judge also revoked Chauvin’s bail and the former cop was remanded to the custody of the Hennepin County Sheriff. He will be sentenced in eight weeks.
“This is for everyone that’s been held down and pinned down,” said Floyd’s brother Rodney during the post-verdict news conference.
“History is here,” said Floyd’s brother Terrence. “This is monumental…we said, God, we need justice and we need it now and he answered.”
“America, let’s lean into this moment and let’s make sure … that this moment will be documented for our children yet unborn,” said family attorney Benjamin Crump. “As they continue on the journey to justice, knowing that the blood of George Floyd will give them a trail to find a way to a better America.”
On May 25, 2020, shortly after 8:00 PM four Minneapolis Police Department officers responded to an alleged forgery call. Officers were told that Floyd was sitting on top of a blue car and was “under the influence.” The MPD claimed that Floyd was ordered to step out of his car and resisted arrest once he did. In a cellphone video shared around the world, courtesy of 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, Floyd could be seen with Chauvin’s knee on his neck crying out, “I can’t breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe.”
An ambulance picked up Floyd and took him to the Hennepin County Medical Center where he died. Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds.
Surveillance video from an area restaurant showed officers handcuffing Floyd and taking him out of his car and onto the sidewalk. They then picked him up and escorted him with his hands behind his back before the confrontation occurred.
Floyd, along with Breonna Taylor, became focal points for anti-police brutality protestors around the country in 2020. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, activists still took to the streets demanding justice and accountability. There were bursts of violence and clashes with the police.
During the protests, then-President Donald Trump was mocked and criticized by political pundits and the media for hiding in a bunker meant to be used only for terror attacks. Trump, as a response, attempted to present himself as a strongman the following week were he had military units clear protesters from in front of the White House using tear gas in order for him to walk across the street to St. John’s Episcopal Church and pose with a bible in his hand while his wife, Melania, stood at his side.
Pundits attributed his response to not only the protestors, but to the coronavirus pandemic as reasons for his election loss in 2020.
While read in Minneapolis, the verdict was felt nationwide. Elected officials quickly chimed in and some spoke directly to Floyd’s family.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Floyd’s family not long after the verdict. Recorded by the Floyd family’s attorney Ben Crump and posted to his Twitter page, the president and vice president let them know that the White House stood with them.
“In George’s name and memory, we’re going to make sure his legacy is intact and that history will look back on this moment and know it was an inflection moment,” said Harris. “And we really do believe that with your leadership and the president we have in the White House that we’re going to make something good come out of this tragedy”.
“Nothing’s going to make it better, but at least there was some justice,” Biden told Floyd’s family. “You’re an incredible family. I wish I was there to put my arms around you.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) said the good will of America spoke up, demanded justice and received it.
“The jury has spoken and delivered a just verdict by convicting Derek Chauvin of murder,” stated Jeffries. “It’s now time for America to come together, elevate the principle of equal protection under the law and continue this country’s march toward a more perfect union.”
The current state of nation had people preparing for the worst. The National Guard were deployed in multiple cities in preparation for a not guilty verdict. The New York City Police Department reportedly had all hands-on deck in case of a not guilty verdict.
Keli Young, the Civil Rights Campaign coordinator at VOCAL-NY, told the AmNews that preparation for property damage demonstrated the lack of care or concern for Black people.
“This highlights our country’s obsession with property and disregard for Black lives,” Young said. “The ‘preparation’ we’re talking about is continued violence against Black people and those who are advocating on their behalf. It’s violence that is perpetuated by police and supported and funded by those in power. Violence is the only tool police have and until our local, state, and federal governments acknowledge this and act accordingly, this cycle will continue.”
While law enforcement sounded the alarm for themselves. Others sounded the alarm for protestors.
The Legal Aid Society released “Know Your Rights” information in preparation for the Derek Chauvin verdict. Members hoped that protesters followed them accordingly.
Among some of the tips, protestors were told not to tell the police anything other than their name, address and date of birth, disable face and fingerprint unlock of their phones substituting it for a alphabetic passcode and turning off GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC).
But it was all for naught. In an emailed statement sent to the AmNews, the Legal Aid Society noted that while justice was served, injustices were still in purview.
“While this conviction holds Derek Chauvin accountable for his actions, it does not cure the epidemic of police violence or address the racist systems that perpetuate it,” read their statement. “Even as this trial was taking place, Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo were killed by police. Police in this nation wield far too much power and control in spaces where they simply do not belong.”
But that didn’t mean that people would avoid being “Debbie Downers.” In a statement from the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, the group acknowledged the pain and suffering of the community, but then blamed the political climate for the current state of discourse. “There are no winners in this case and we respect the jury’s decision,” read part of their statement. “We need the political pandering to stop and the race baiting of elected officials to stop. In addition, we need to stop the divisive comments and we all need to do better to create a Minneapolis we all love.”
The right-leaning Judicial Watch jumped into the fold accusing Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43) of encouraging violence when she told protestors earlier this week to “get confrontational” and “make sure that they know we mean business.” A Republican attempt to censure Waters failed by six votes in the Democrat-dominated House of Representatives.
One former elected official felt the need to throw his two cents in. Former President Barack Obama put out a statement sending condolences to Floyd’s family, approving of the verdict and hoping that the country gets better for everyone.
“True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day,” Obama said. “It requires us to recognize that millions of our friends, family, and fellow citizens live in fear that their next encounter with law enforcement could be their last. And it requires us to do the sometimes thankless, often difficult, but always necessary work of making the America we know more like the America we want to believe in.”
Floyd’s brother, Philonise, echoed similar sentiments during the post-verdict news conference.
“I feel relieved today,” he said. “I finally have the opportunity for hopefully getting some sleep…this is a never-ending cycle.
“Justice for George means freedom for all.”