Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on MSA’s literary arts blog, curated by junior and senior literary arts students.
“I can’t breathe.” was a phrase heard around the nation on May 26,2020. This phrase was chanted throughout protests turned ‘riots’ all due to an incident that started with a supposed counterfeit $20 bill on May 25, 2020 outside of a Minneapolis corner store.
George Floyd was a father, a brother, an uncle, a son, a partner and so much more. But, on May 25, 2020, the police officers who were called to respond to a possible counterfeit $20 dollar bill saw him less than human. Video shows the last moments of Floyd’s life that all but sparked backlash and a swift need for justice.
For 9 minutes and 29 seconds, Derek Chauvin (ex Minneapolis cop) kneeled on the neck of George Floyd as Floyd pleaded for his “Mama” and continuously repeated the phrase “I can’t breathe”. The other three officers (Thomas Lane, J.Keung, and Tou Thao) did nothing to stop Chauvin nor help Mr. Floyd. Bystanders and people of the forming crowd around the incident pleaded for Chauvin to stop and even offered to help George Floyd in his plea for air.
The total lack of humanity and care gave the nation enough fuel to make changes until big ones came. Even during a deadly pandemic, people marched for justice for Floyd and many others. Even today, they are still marching.
March 29, 2021 was the day the case of Minneapolis v Chauvin for the death of George Floyd started. I’ve been sure to follow this case since I first heard about it. Testimony from the witnesses, both defense and prosecution, stirred emotion and provided insight into the trauma witnessed the day of George Floyd’s death. The ages for witness start as young as 9 years old.
Throughout the entire trial, Chauvin spoke only once. He only spoke to use his 5th amendment right, of not testifying. Other than that, he was shielded behind a face mask due to the pandemic keeping a calm demeanor as he awaited his fate.
The jury took a little over 10 hours to come to a conclusion of Chauvin’s fate. He was found guilty on all 3 counts he was charged with which are, 2nd-degree unintentional murder, 3rd-degree murder, and 2nd-degree manslaughter.
On April 20, 2020, justice was given to the family of George Floyd. Justice has been shown to the United States people. Accountability for careless and deadly actions by Derek Chauvin was given. But, even in the midst of this small judicial victory, black Americans are still being slain by the police as if it comes in their job description.
It is a small win, but it is not the end of the road. The fight must continue. We will take this day to rest and continue the protests tomorrow. As a black person, we can never enjoy small victories too often because something usually follows behind it.
I am happy to see justice being served rightfully after being denied many times before.
With a heart hoping for justice,