On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the fatal arrest that took George Floyd’s life. Around the same time the verdict of that case was read, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was fatally shot by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. Earlier this month, Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a police officer who mistook her gun for a taser. This list goes on and on.
According to a database compiled by The Washington Post, 274 individuals have been shot and killed by police officers in 2021 alone. We are just over halfway through April.
The deaths of thousands of Americans, a disproportionate number of whom are Black, are unacceptable. Yet, the deaths of Americans at the hands of on-duty police officers have been occurring for centuries. So, when will true and lasting change arrive?
The verdict that was read on Tuesday afternoon was not justice — it was accountability. Accountability for one man’s actions. But where is the accountability for the other police officers who have not faced jail time for their violent, senseless actions? Where is the extensive round of policy changes that so many Americans have been calling for?
Floyd’s death was not a “sacrifice.” Neither was Ahmaud Arbery’s, Breonna Taylor’s, Elijah McClain, Tamir Rice’s or anyone else’s. A precious life is not a pawn or a political talking point.
So let’s not simply rename streets and draft pages of history books. Let’s not allow these individuals to die in vain. There are so many names that are not nationally covered, so many people who will never see justice in the form that Floyd’s family did.
But we have a judicial system. We have checks and balances in place to create a system of protection in which law enforcement officials do not abuse their power. We need to create a system that cultivates trust between citizens and police officers. The commitment to enact change is one we must all make.