Waiting for the verdict, I knew it wouldn’t be. All I could hope for was accountability.
I focused on my breathing as I waited for the judge to verbalize Derek Chauvin’s fate.
Breathing in, I prayed for George Floyd’s brother. I just lost my own in January and in praying for Philonise Floyd’s peace, I knew the hole in his heart hasn’t yet started to heal. Breathing out, I prayed for everyone else who loved him. No matter the words they hear, there would never be justice because George Floyd is still gone.
Chest tight as I prepared my lament, I heard the word – “guilty” – and I was…numb. I thought I heard wrong because history has conditioned me to believe that this officer would be another to walk free.
By the look of Derek Chauvin, he believed the same.
Hearing it again and then once more after that didn’t change my emotions until I felt the weight of the words on my own tongue, “Guilty,” I said out loud and to no one, “on all counts,” and then the tears came.
George Floyd should be here. We shouldn’t know his name.
I wasn’t crying out of relief or gladness that Chauvin would fall asleep in a cell tonight. I was crying for the Floyd family and prayed for their rest, for the people of Minneapolis who still live in fear of the police, and because we can’t rest.
There is more work to be done as more unarmed Black men and women are disproportionately killed by police.
I also cried for George Floyd.
I’ve been praying for him over the last eleven months, and for the people who loved him who will never see justice for his life. I was crying because this “win” is met with the greater loss of Mr. Floyd’s dignity, especially since there were moments when Mr. Chauvin’s defense made it seem as if he were on trial.
No matter the words they hear, there would never be justice because George Floyd is still gone.
This verdict, though very much needed and was very much hoped for, calls us to keep moving. Though there will be no riots tonight, there will also be no peace and it is our job as Catholics to work on that. The Catechism teaches:
The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.”
As a Church we have let this go on far too long. Instead of peace, there is a temporary respite.
The peace will never be perfect this side of the heavenly city, but that is also why the work of justice must begin and never cease.
Two people named Anna Barber and Connor Wright created an installation called “Say Their Names” near George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, to honor victims of police brutality.
There are some 150 simple, headstone-shaped cenotaphs. George Floyd’s shouldn’t be there. None of them should be there.
George Floyd should be here.
We shouldn’t know his name.
There is no justice in adding his name to a tragically growing litany when we say: “Black lives matter.” That Derek Chauvin has lost his name — now tied forever to the gasping, flailing, pleading, still, silent minutes he spent kneeling on George Floyd’s neck — is petty justice, at best.
Derek Chauvin does not need my forgiveness.
Nor is he owed any vengeance on my end.
He does deserve my resentment. I am well aware that I am a woman who serves a merciful God and Derek Chauvin with his faults is in need of mercy – we all are – but Chauvin acted unjustly and the man he killed is still dead.
Justice was not served.
We just bore witness to an acknowledgment of injustice.
It is the first step of many more to come as we continue to work for a world in which – at the very least – our Black brothers and sisters can expect to make it home after a traffic stop, or get to see their day in court.
Marcia Lane-McGee is a writer, podcaster, and mug model. Going strong with the Church since 2000, even though she still can’t say either Creed without audience participation.
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