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Are Things Changing?

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — Angela Y. Davis

 

I cried. Yes, I admit I lost it and bawled like a baby whose pacifier had been snatched away. But mine were happy tears.

Until yesterday, when the verdict against Derek Chauvin was announced, I had not seen so much hugging, hi-fiving, and joyful weeping since Joe Biden was elected president. Telephone signals crisscrossed nationwide as friends and associates, many expressing stunned disbelief but euphoric gratification, phoned each other to confirm that what we heard was not a cruel joke or a bad dream. The track record of bad cops vs. Black Americans trapped in their web is common knowledge. How many Black people didn’t find it hard to believe their eyes and ears when Judge Peter Cahill said, “Guilty. Guilty. Guilty?” Say whaaat?

I wrote my first post about George Floyd on May 28, 2020, nearly a year ago. Although I have always maintained hope for justice for Mr. Floyd, honestly, I wasn’t expecting it, not even after a video circulated worldwide showed Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and pressing the life out of him. I didn’t expect it even after Chauvin was fired and arrested and put on trial. I still have little faith in the so-called justice system. It has failed us so many times before until “Say Their Names” has become as much a rallying cry as Black Lives Matter. On Tuesday, my prayers and the prayers of millions of principled people – people of color and whites – everywhere were answered. My close friends and I collectively exhaled a sigh of relief, although disbelief still hovers in the shadows of the future like an ominous cloud as does Chauvin’s expected appeal.

During the days after Mr. Floyd’s murder and the following weeks, I refused to watch the video showing his demise. I just couldn’t. Whenever I knew that it was about to be shown, I’d mute the TV and look away until I thought the segment was over. In the months preceding the trial, when I thought of the tragic way in which the incapacitated man was murdered, in my mind, I would see the smirk on the killer cop’s face as he pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck. Today, I replace the image of that smirk with what I saw above the mask on Chauvin’s face after the verdict was read – deer in the headlight eyes. I imagine and hope that what was going through his mind was gut-wrenching fear; fear of a dire future.

I’ve learned of so many – too many – senseless murders-by-cop of black men and women during my lifetime. I hope that the Chauvin verdict will change bad policing in America.

I pray for Darnella Frazier, the teenager who courageously stood her ground and filmed Mr. Floyd’s murder. I also pray for all of those who testified against the rogue cop, especially the other police officers who – this time – ignored the blue wall, that informal code of silence among police officers, and did the right thing.

I know that before the verdict and even in its light, many organizations and some individual citizens continue calling for police abolition (replacing policing with other systems of public safety) or defunding the police. As I understand it, “defunding the police” does not (as some believe) mean doing away with the police. It means reducing police department budgets and reallocating or redistributing those funds toward essential social services.

I hope that Congress will pass H.R.7120 , the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, aka the George Floyd bill. Not only will the bill address systemic police misdeeds, among other things, but it will also create a national registry to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct. Ideally, that registry will prevent bad cops who willingly leave or are fired from the police force in one city from relocating to another police force in a different town. The proposed ordinance is primarily intended to “hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.”

I don’t think that the majority of Americans are anti-police. I’m not. I know that there are good officers out there. We all are just sick and tired of bad cops using their badge and gun to get away with murder, literally. I agree with Michael Moore, who in his Podcast proposes that our country “abolish a sick and cruel system of policing and replace it with a humane and accountable system of Public Safety and Compassion.”

What right-minded person wouldn’t agree that this country’s law enforcement system needs massive change? Who would not like to believe that there truly is liberty and justice for all?

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