Today, we are responding to the George Floyd verdict, as are people all around us, with gratitude but also with recognition that even as one jury in this terrible case provides accountability, lives continue to be lost and hate continues to spread. There is work to be done, to make inclusion and equity a reality.
Our regular newsletter will be out tomorrow.
WCDP STATEMENT ON THE GUILTY VERDICTS FOR DEREK CHAUVINThe announcement on Tuesday of guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd in public and in broad daylight, was stunning. It should NOT have been stunning; the case was virtually open and shut. There were many witnesses. There was video. The police officer who knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly ten minutes admitted that he did it. But, rather than expecting him to be found guilty, most of us expected he would be found innocent. We expected this because that is the normal outcome of cases like this in America. I was standing in a parking lot at Menard’s when my phone buzzed with the news. I was emotionless while I read it. It simply didn’t sink in for me for some time. And then, when it did sink in, the tears came. “Justice was served”, I thought. And then I thought some more. And when I did, I came to realize that the guilty verdicts are not “justice” in any real sense. They are nothing more than Derek Chauvin being held accountable. The only real justice for George Floyd and his family that I can think of is if police stop killing people, especially Black people. As of Sunday, there were only THREE DAYS this year when someone wasn’t killed by a police officer in America. In 2020, 28% of the people killed by a police officer were Black even though only 13% of all Americans are Black. So these verdicts against Derek Chauvin were a necessary first step and it’s about time. But they are not sufficient and the disgusting stain on America of police killing Black people at a rate twice their percentage of our population must end NOW. There were others who stood by while George Floyd was murdered who did nothing. Some of these people were other police officers, the only ones who might have done something to prevent Mr. Floyd’s death but chose not to. They will face their day in court later this summer. But this, too, is exceedingly and tragically rare. Those of us with racial privilege have a large role to play in ending this deadly epidemic of racially-driven murders by law enforcement officials. The first thing we should do is let the BIPOC people in our lives know that we see them, we see what’s being done to them, and we stand in allyship with them. This is often difficult because, to be true allies, we must put our own lives on the line when necessary. But nothing will change without it. Another thing that needs to happen is for White people to understand and internalize the idea of co-liberation. Our lives, our communities, our universe are intertwined webs of relationships and connections and, unless ALL of us are liberated and free to find love and opportunity and prosperity, none of us is liberated. We literally are all in this together and we damn well better start acting like it. Here at the WCDP, we take the idea of co-liberation very seriously. Next month, the White people in our County Party leadership will be going through several hours of co-liberation training being put on by the incredible Interfaith Council on Peace and Justice. In addition, we are committed to the following:
- We will continue to work with leaders in communities of color to ensure we are supporting them in ways that move us all forward collectively.
- We will continue to put on programming like our February and March General membership meetings that focused on elevating the voices of marginalized communities.
- We will continue to ensure that people of color are given not just a voice in our organization but power and influence.
- And we’ll work to make sure they have power and influence in all areas of our lives, including in our local and state governments.
- Finally, we will continue to fight for new laws and policies at all levels of government that ensure that our terrible racial legacy in America is finally dismantled.
There are three pieces of federal legislation that we should all be fighting to pass into law. The first two are H.R. 1/S. 1 – the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (bill number not yet established.) These laws would go a long way toward eliminating corporate power in our government and in stopping voter suppression in our country. The third is H.R. 1280 – the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (no Senate version yet) which would:
- Work to End Racial & Religious Profiling Save Lives by Banning Chokeholds & No-Knock Warrants
- Limit Military Equipment on American Streets & Requires Body Cameras
- Hold Police Accountable in Court
- Investigate Police Misconduct
- Empower Our Communities to Reimagine Public Safety in an Equitable and Just Way
- Change the Culture of Law Enforcement with Training to Build Integrity and Trust
- Improve Transparency by Collecting Data on Police Misconduct and Use-of-Force
- Stop Sexual Assault in Law Enforcement Custody
Thank you for being part of our incredible Democratic family here in Washtenaw County. The path ahead of us to a more perfect union is long and hard. But if we travel it together, as allies, we will succeed. The conviction of Derek Chauvin reminds us that we CAN make progress. Together.
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