George Floyd died May 20, 2020, because Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
When the guilty verdict came in for Derek Chauvin’s trial on Tuesday, I sighed from relief instead of exasperation. I cried tears of joy instead of anger.
I expected the tension that had set up shop in my shoulders and neck to leave. I expected the anxiety that blanketed my chest to lift.
And both feelings were gone. Just not for long.
The video of George Floyd’s death has circulated on social media and news outlets for nearly a year. Sometimes in fragments, sometimes in its entirety.
As the trial was concluding and it was announced that the verdict would soon be read, local businesses in Minneapolis and across the country boarded their windows and entrances. People doubted that Derek Chauvin would be convicted of murdering George Floyd, including me. I knew Chauvin was guilty, but whether or not he would be found guilty by a jury was still up in the air.
I carried tension and anxiety for the past year because I didn’t think anything would change. I didn’t think he would be found guilty. However, I protested for miles and hours to show that I wasn’t going to sit down and accept what was happening.
The tension and anxiety I felt wasn’t because I was concerned about what protests or riots would do to businesses. Instead, I was concerned about what message this would send to the police.
If Chauvin was found not guilty, what would happen when the next unarmed Black person was killed by police because he ‘looked suspicious’ like Elijah McClain. What would happen when the next Black child was killed for playing with a toy gun like Tamir Rice? Or when a neighbor calls for a wellness check, like Atatiana Jefferson?
I was worried because if Chauvin was found not guilty, charging and convicting murderers in a police uniform would be less likely to happen again.
I want to believe that this changes things, but how could it? Look to Caron Nazario who was pulled over for a traffic violation and held at gunpoint by police officers. Or Daunte Wright, killed because a veteran police officer mistook her gun for her taser. Or Andrew Brown Jr. who was shot on Wednesday by police. Brown’s death is being investigated, and the body cam videos are expected to be released soon, but my trust in the police is completely gone.
These past few days have made me realize that I will carry the tension and anxiety with me until justice is served for every person, especially a Black person, that is killed by the hands of the police.
And until police are held accountable for killing the people they are meant to protect, keep your businesses boarded. Because if there is no justice, there will be no peace.