Here’s Why Social Justice Advocates Aren’t Celebrating The Chauvin Conviction

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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  • A jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd on Tuesday. 
  • Multiple social justice advocates said they view the conviction as accountability, not justice for Floyd and other victims of police violence.
  • Several people, including former President Barack Obama, said work still needs to be done to reform policing systems. 

Many social justice advocates said the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is accountability, not justice after the jury’s guilty verdict was announced Tuesday.

Activists praised Chauvin’s conviction as the right decision, but said it was not enough to achieve actual justice because Floyd should still be alive. Several prominent figures said that justice means addressing and reforming systemic issues of policing, including excessive use of force and violence against minorities.

“But if we’re being honest with ourselves, we know that true justice is about much more than a single verdict in a single trial,” former President Barack Obama said shortly after the jury’s decision was announced. “True justice requires that we come to terms with the fact that Black Americans are treated differently, every day.”

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Floyd died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for over nine minutes during an arrest in May 2020, video shows.

“While today’s verdict may have been a necessary step on the road to progress, it was far from a sufficient one,” Obama said. “We cannot rest. We will need to follow through with the concrete reforms that will reduce and ultimately eliminate racial bias in our criminal justice system.”

Today, a jury in Minneapolis did the right thing.

For almost a year, George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police…

Posted by Barack Obama on Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Others echoed Obama’s message that justice means more than a singular jury verdict and work needs to be done to address injustices within policing systems.

“We saw former Officer Chauvin apply deadly force callously even after George Floyd was killed, ignoring pleas for him to stop,” Amnesty International USA Senior Advocate for Criminal Justice Programs Kristina Roth said in a statement. “We can no longer tolerate the lack of accountability when it comes to the killing of Black and brown people.”

Chauvin’s conviction “is the exception — not the rule,” Amnesty International USA Executive Director Paul O’Brien said in a statement. Floyd’s death showed systemic failures of policing in minority communities including excessive use of force and violence, O’Brien added.

Chauvin’s conviction was accountability and justice would be if Floyd were still alive, Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu wrote in Harper’s Bazaar. (RELATED: Derek Chauvin Found Guilty Of Murder In Death Of George Floyd)

“It’s important to mark the difference between accountability versus justice. Derek Chauvin was held accountable for murdering George Floyd, and while that is a step towards justice, it isn’t full justice,” Mos-Shogbamimu wrote.

“True justice requires that we not only hold racist murderers accountable, but that we eviscerate institutional racism and eradicate the power construct that is white supremacy,” Mos-Shogbamimu added. “Full justice would mean that no Black men or women are ever killed unlawfully by police officers again.”

Justice for Floyd will not be achieved until police and public safety systems are reformed, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said. The organization urged the Biden administration to help cities replace armed police officers who conduct traffic stops and respond to mental health crises with trained civilian professionals.

Police killed at least 64 people from the time Chauvin’s trial began on March 29 through April 17, amounting to around three deaths per day, The New York Times reported. Over half of those killed were black or Latino.

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