The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin is a rare instance of police accountability, but we have more work ahead to build anti-racist and community-led alternatives to policing.
Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, has been found guilty of murdering George Floyd, a rare instance of accountability in a case where the evidence against the officer was especially stark.
The killing of Floyd—prone on the pavement with his hands cuffed behind his back as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for upwards of nine minutes—shocked the conscience of the world and sparked what was likely the largest protest movement in U.S. history.
But Floyd’s death was no aberration. More than a thousand people die at the hands of law enforcement every year—about three deaths per day—with Black people three times more likely to be the victims than white people.
Today’s verdict cannot on its own address the long history of socioeconomic exclusion and criminalization of Black and Brown communities that contributed to Floyd’s murder. Nor can it heal the trauma that accompanies violent and often unnecessary police encounters.
George Floyd’s murder has served as a flashpoint for change and a demand for meaningful reform. Genuine reform begins with reducing the number of encounters with police. We must shrink the footprint of police and direct more power and funding into the communities where those encounters have disproportionately taken place.
Community-led, anti-racist alternatives to policing and the criminal justice system are being built across the country. This is work that must continue and be taken to scale. It is also work that is at the core of our mission.
The urgency of that mission is sharpened with each passing day.