Tuesday, April 20th, 2021 a was a historic day for not only the black community but for the entire world.
This day after months of protesting in the summers of 2020, after the innumerable years of freedom fighting, after years of taking the streets against police brutality, after the countless lives taken from this earth by white supremacy and police terror, Black and Brown people saw justice.
Dereck Chauvin, the murderer of George Floyd was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
“Black folks globally, we weren’t sure what kind of verdict we were gonna get… We know that we live in a country that has a 3 track system for criminal justice, a system for white folks, a system for poor folks, and then a system for people of color,” said Faye Kennedy, the lead organizer with Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign and a local activist in Sacramento.
“When I heard from Tik Tok that he had been found guilty, there was this weird shock that overcame me, where I felt like it was a joke, because white people are never found guilty for things they do, or they get really easy sentences,” said Kimora Morley, a freshman at St.Francis High School.
This shocking outcome left many who watched the live-streamed verdict trial or found out on social media, speechless, emotional, relieved, and stunned.
“I’m happy with the verdict, but that verdict will never bring back Mr. Floyd,” said Kennedy.
Faye Kennedy talked about the sadness she felt when reflecting on father-daughter relationships in her life and how many of the wholesome moments she spent with her father, Gianna Floyd George Floyd’s daughter will never get to feel with hers.
“She’s not gonna be able to ride her bike with her dad, they’re not gonna be able to go to the movies together, they’re not gonna be able to snuggle and him read a story to her…that little girl was denied her daddy,” said Faye.
This is often the sad reality that many Black and Brown families, and families of victims to police violence face.
985 people have been shot and killed by police in the past year, according to the Washington post database which records fatal police shootings in the U.S.
Out of the thousands of deadly police shootings in the U.S. since 2005, fewer than 140 officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter, according to an AP News article.
According to their website, The Poor People’s Campaign is a national movement “rooted in a moral analysis based on our deepest religious and constitutional values that demand justice for all…and committed to lifting up and deepening the leadership of those most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation and to building unity across lines of division.”
“It just reinforced what we know that we live in a system that is riddled with racism, riddled with classism, and that black folks and people of color bear the brunt of it in the criminal justice system,” Kennedy explained.
The video of George Floyd’s murder was haunting and traumatizing for the millions of eyes who watched the 9 minute and 29-second film.
“He used his own body to kill a human being. Doctors and nurses use their hands to save lives, Chauvin used his body, his knees, and even his hands, when he put his hands in his pocket that was putting more pressure, to kill a human being.”
“We live in a country where black bodies are not valued, so in his mind, he had to subdue him, he had to subdue him to the point where he killed him,” Kennedy expressed.
The relief felt by millions when the verdict was announced quickly went away when news came that yet another black life was lost to police violence. This time it was a 16-year old girl; Ma’khia Bryant, who was killed at her home in Columbus, Ohio.
Day by day, more names are being added to the long list of victims to police terror and violence.
Daunte Demetrius Wright, Marvin David Scott II, Vincent “Vinny” M. Belmonte, and the list goes on.
Faye and Kimora both shared their hesitancy with feeling hopeful for a changed system. This feeling is a common one shared by many in the black community. Some feel this is not a sign of change in the system and that much more work must be done to get there.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up about anything else because something might happen that may benefit the black community, but that doesn’t mean that everything just goes away…there’s still people alive who are white supremacists or that are just anti-black,” said Kimora.
“I still don’t have faith in our criminal justice system. What is hard for people to understand is that America was built on racism, it continues to live and thrive every day on racism, on the backs of people of color and poor people every single day. Until we can come together as a nation and community, we as a local community… don’t know if the police officers will be held accountable” she expressed.
The long history of police terror and racism in this country makes it hard for communities to have faith in the criminal justice system, especially after the summer of George Floyd’s death.
Many believe and advocate that true justice will come through the defunding and abolition of America’s police forces.
“I feel like in terms of the American criminal justice system it was mainly created as a new way to enslave black people…I feel like in terms of it changing it really just needs to be redone, reconstructed…I don’t know what exactly could make it better because there’s just so many flaws in it,” Kimora explained.
According to the sentencing project, African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 5.1 times the imprisonment of whites. In eleven states, at least 1 in every 20 adult black male is in prison.
Faye Kennedy who is an active leader in the Sacramento community explained how she will continue the work she’s doing, continue writing letters, advocating, and fighting for black, brown, and poor communities.
Kennedy talked about how through her work with the Sacramento Poor People’s Campaign, she will work to get the George Floyd Bill(The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020) passed.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 reads that it “increases accountability for law enforcement misconduct, restricts the use of certain policing practices, enhances transparency and data collection, and establishes best practices and training requirements.”
“Even though Chauvin got convicted, it wasn’t justice because Mr. Floyd should be alive today. He should be outside in the beautiful weather with his daughter, enjoying the nature, enjoying bike rides, enjoying ice cream with his daughter,” said Kennedy.