On May 25 of 2020, George Floyd, the man whose name the whole nation would soon learn, was killed by an appalling incident of police brutality. Since then, Minnesota has suffered many incidents, from rape conviction getting overturned to the very recent death of Daunte Wright.
Last week on April 11, Wright was pulled over by Officer Kimberly Ann Potter for an air freshener hanging from his car. Later, he was handcuffed due to a misdemeanor warrant out for his arrest. Wright attempted to get back into his car seat after being handcuffed, which is when Officer Potter reached for her taser while shouting “Taser, taser”. She fired what she thought was her taser, but was actually her gun. Wright managed to get back into his car, which his girlfriend was also in, and started driving away from the scene. Ultimately, he crashed his car a few blocks away. Alayna Albrecht-Payton, Wright’s girlfriend, suffered minor injuries while Wright was not so lucky, and he was pronounced dead on scene.
According to The Washington Post, at least 262 people, including Wright, have been shot and killed by the police this year alone. The murder of Wright fueled the already very large fire burning throughout the nation. Wright’s killing had also added much more tension to Derek Chauvin’s trial, the officer who killed Floyd. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
During the trial, new body cam footage of Derek Chauvin was released. It showed the officers forcefully pushing Floyd’s head into a car. Despite being told that Floyd suffers from claustrophobia, the officers were unsympathetic about anything that he had to say, instead roughly pushing his head into the car. In the footage, Derek is shown choking Floyd with both of his hands for a brief second, even though Floyd was already handcuffed.
When I watched the footage for the first time, I could not hold back my tears. It finally made me realize the cruelties that humanity is capable of unless people are willing to stand up for what’s right. Young people are ultimately the ones who have to step up because this is our world. Creating a new world isn’t possible, but changing the one that we’re in is something that is profoundly achievable. In The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, the main character Starr states, “How many of us have to die before y'all get it?”. It makes my heart shatter just thinking about this. Too many people have fallen victim to police brutality and racism. There’s only one way to make this stop, and that’s by standing up.
Chauvin’s verdict is accountability, not justice. Justice would mean that George Floyd is still alive today. This verdict will undoubtedly set a precedent in deconstructing the systemic racism that currently exists within our criminal justice system. However, there is still so much work left to accomplish. Black lives matter today, tomorrow, and always.