A savored breath of justice

Participants+of+the+Carbondale+CO+BLM+protest+nearly+one+year+ago+holding+their+hands+behind+their+backs+repeating+%22I+can%27t+breathe%22

Photo by AHS junior, Alice Collins

Participants of the Carbondale CO BLM protest nearly one year ago holding their hands behind their backs repeating “I can’t breathe”

“No Justice, No Peace”- Nearly a year ago, the cry of these four words echoed across protests when George Perry Floyd Jr. took his last, unjust breath. Just recently, justice for Floyd has been served with a heaping side of relief, but where is the main course: peace?

On April 20th, that relief flooded over America when, at last, accountability has finally triumphed against racism and hate. A former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of George Floyd’s death on all three counts—second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. On the day of the verdict, George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, stated, “Today we are able to breathe again.”

Despite Chauvin’s verdict, it seems that the breath of justice Philonise Floyd referenced was not a deep inhale; rather, it was conserved. Despite the evidence presented, months of protests, and national grief, many still feared that the jury would not give George Floyd the justice and grace he was so deserving of. People were afraid to hope.

This lack of trust in America’s judicial and legal systems is rational and expected. Studies have repeatedly shown that Black and Latinx are more likely to experience violence and death in police encounters than Whites. These studies expose only a small portion of the racist, inequitable, and unjust American legal system.

Thousands are brutalized by racial inequality, and police have yet to receive the justice they deserve. Emmit Till, Oscar Grant, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, and recently, Makiyah Bryant have all lost their lives to police and racial brutality that has been reprieved until this day. This is why Chauvin’s verdict was such an immense victory; it was a single, small step towards equality. Chauvin’s verdict had been one of the first of its kind.

Justice for Floyd is not only a small step towards racial equality but also towards accountability. One guilty verdict does not undo the wrongs of the countless other unjust cases, however, it drives future hope. There is hope that people can mobilize to create change and that systematic racism and racial injustice can be combated.

The journey to racial equality and just legal systems in America has just begun. Although accountability for Floyd’s death has instilled hope for a future of activism and real change, America is far from peace. Peace will exist when those deserving of justice not only receive it but are living to tell the tale of racial equity existing across America.

As American poet and activist Amanda Gorman said, “A reminder that victory would be George Floyd being alive. Every day Black Americans worry if they will be next is another day without justice.”