The Guilty Verdict In Derek Chauvin's Case Doesn't End The Fight Against Systemic Racism

Photo: Ron Adar / Shutterstock
Woman holding sign that says Chauvin is guilty, but so is the system

A jury has officially found Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was primarily responsible for the death of George Floyd, guilty on all counts.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, after kneeling on Floyd’s neck in May 2020, culminating in his death.

The videotaped murder of George Floyd, during which Floyd could be heard begging for help as he repeatedly cried out "I can't breathe" and called for his mother, rocked the nation, igniting a summer filled with protests over the grave injustice Floyd himself suffered, as well as the rampant issue of police brutality against people of color in the U.S.

When news broke that the five men and seven women on the jury had reached a decision after deliberating for just over 10 hours, people across the country waited with bated breath to hear the verdict announced.

Now that Chauvin's trial is over, George Floyd’s family can finally find some peace knowing the person who took the life of their loved one away is being held accountable.

But that doesn't mean the fight against systemic racism and police brutality is suddenly over.

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Much of the discussion following the reading of Chauvin's guilty verdict has been about the distinction that the jury's decision is not justice, but accountability.

There are hundreds of officers who have murdered Black people in cold blood whose cases never even made it into the courtroom.

There are Black families out there, mourning the death of their loved ones, and who will never receive any justice.

According to the Mapping Police Violence database, "98.3% of killings by police from 2013-2020 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime."

The guilty verdict is a step in the right direction, but we cannot abandon the fight to fix this system.

We cannot forget our cries to defund the police, abolish prisons and develop a new, more just justice system — one that doesn’t treat Black people and other minorities like we are at the bottom rung of society's ladder.

The guilty verdict is not justice; justice would mean George Floyd still being alive.

In a just world, waiting for the verdict wouldn’t have been the anxiety-ridden activity it was, spent hoping and praying that another white cop wouldn’t get away with the murder of a Black person.

Breonna Taylor hasn’t received justice; nor has Michael Brown.

We fear Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo and Ma'Khia Bryant might not either.

Derek Chauvin may be in prison, but the system that has killed too many Black people and allowed the white police officers who murdered them to walk free is still very much intact.

The same system that wrongfully convicted five Black and Hispanic teenagers in New York City in 1989, ripping their lives away and forever branding them as the Central Park 5, is the same system in place today.

It's now more than thirty years later, and so little has changed.

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Police officers and the justice system that backs them up — including lawyers, correctional officers, prisons, and parole officers — remain a hindrance to the Black community.

We need services in place to take up the work they cannot and will not do.

We don’t need police officers — we need mental health services, better schools in low-income neighborhoods, and more social services to make sure that Black communities are being taken care of.

We also need to abolish the horrible conditions and lack of rehabilitation in our prisons.

There should be programs in prisons all across the country intended to make sure that once inmates are released, they have the necessary means to assimilate back into society.

But the harsh reality is the fact that, as of now, prisons are just another form of modern-day slavery.

And Black people are incarcerated in state prisons across the country at more than five times the rate of white people. In eleven states, at least one in 20 adult black males is in prison.

And according to the NAACP, "one out of every three Black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison, compared 1 out 6 Latino boys; one out of 17 white boys."

Those numbers need to change, and the mentality of modern-day policing also needs to change.

I’m glad Derek Chauvin was given the verdict he deserved.

My thoughts and prayers are with George Floyd’s family, and I hope they find peace.

But, we need to change this system and finally put an end to the overwhelming numbers of Black men and women who have been killed at the hands of this unjust world.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.