Racism runs much deeper than policing and law enforcement. Racial injustice is deeply embedded in our nation’s past and present. It is systemic, institutional, and interpersonal, but it is not insurmountable. It’s time for a national reckoning that takes racism and white supremacy seriously and delivers fully enforceable policies that stamp out discrimination in policing and all other institutions in our country. Black Americans and other marginalized people are entitled to the same tenets of life and liberty as guaranteed to white people. Systemic racism and lawlessness by state actors make that impossible.
Today, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in May 2020. This is one small step toward accountability for those who perpetrate violence against Black people and other marginalized people. Still mourning the loss of George Floyd and calling out the names of Adam and Daunte and Breonna and the many others whose killers have not been punished, we urge bold legal and policy reforms to dismantle white supremacy and foster a culture of equity and justice.
All eyes were on Minneapolis today: Would the jury convict a police officer for a killing that the whole country witnessed? Today’s verdict answers that question. Still unanswered is what our country will do after today. Will this be a turning point in our nation’s history? Will we take meaningful steps to reform law enforcement and other institutions? Will we actively confront systemic and institutional racism to better protect the lives of Black people? How will we support the families and communities who have been irreparably harmed by centuries of racism?
As Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement after today’s verdict, “While justice landed Derek Chauvin behind bars for killing George Floyd, no amount of justice will bring Gianna’s father back. The same way a reasonable police officer would never suffocate an unarmed man to death, a reasonable justice system would recognize its roots in white supremacy and end qualified immunity. Police are here to protect, not lynch. We will not rest until all in our community have the right to breathe.”
We at the Center for Progressive Reform stand in solidarity with racial equity and other organizations that are fighting for meaningful reforms, and we advocate for racial and social equity in government, law, and public policy. Today and every day, Black Lives Matter.
For more on the need for police reform, see the following resources from the Leadership Conference Education Fund: