A Movement, Not a Moment
As we commemorate the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by a police officer in Minnesota, we remember him and what his death has meant for Black people: a reckoning in race relations and an inflection point in the fight for racial justice, police reform and accountability.
The conviction of the former officer who murdered Floyd meant the family at least got justice. However, countless others have been injured, abused and killed by police officers all over the country in the years before and months after.
It seems that, even after the world watched in horror as Floyd’s life drained out of him on recorded video, too many law enforcement agencies have been operating as they were before: with a callous disregard for human life, and Black lives in particular, and a readiness to resort to brutal violence first when it should be the last.
Daunte Wright, another Black man, was “accidentally” killed by a white police officer just a few miles from the courtroom where Floyd’s murderer was on trial. Wright’s killer allegedly confused her weapon for the stun gun she meant to use on the unarmed victim. In a scene that is all too familiar, Wright was killed during a routine traffic stop for seemingly frivolous reasons.
The fact that over 60 people, most of them Black or Latino, were killed by police during the three-week trial of Floyd’s murderer illustrates the long journey toward justice. Too many people—over a thousand—have been killed by police in the year since Floyd was choked to death under a police officer’s knee.
Manuel Ellis, Breonna Taylor, Army Lt. Caron Nazario—all killed or abused. The list goes on and on. It has to stop.
But we hope that change, although too slow to meet the urgency of the moment, is coming.
A Long Road Ahead, but Changes Are Coming
Nothing can fill the void left in Floyd’s family caused by his death. However, we honor his legacy by continuing to demand change and holding police and other government officials accountable.
Floyd’s murder sparked global protests that continue to this day—it is a movement, not a moment, to continue the arduous work that is required to pressure local and state governments to seek reform.
Change begins locally, and it is the reason King County declared racism a public health emergency in the aftermath of Floyd’s murder: it is a crisis that always hurts and sometimes kills.
In Olympia, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law that brings some accountability and limits what actions law enforcement can take during interactions with civilians, such as banning chokeholds and neck restraints.
Around the country, states and local governments also have begun to take action to curb police abuses, a recognition that the status quo is untenable.
At the federal level, the Biden administration is pushing Congress to pass a law that would overhaul policing and hold police departments and officers accountable to try to reduce police violence. While the bill’s future is unknown, legislators continue to negotiate.
We live under a criminal justice system that is deeply unjust toward Black, brown, Indigenous and other people of color. It’s a legal system under which “African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, and they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.”
We live in a society where “Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police.”
On this May 25, we remember and honor George Floyd’s legacy and the urgent need for reform that his death sparked. It is incumbent on all of us to continue to fight for equity and racial justice and against the epidemic of racism.