As I watched CNN with my family awaiting the reading of the Derek Chauvin verdict, I felt an insane mix of dread and hope. History has taught me not to get my hopes up too much in these instances because they hardly ever fair in our favor. However, as the verdict was read and we learned that the jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges, my husband and I both let out a huge cheer, and then we embraced. We then turned out attention back to the television and my eyes rested on Chauvin. I searched his face for a reaction, which was difficult at first due to the mask that hugged his nose, mouth, and cheeks. That’s when I noticed the eyes darting back and forth. It didn’t dawn on me immediately, but after a few seconds, I recognized that his shifty eyes were the result of shock, but most of all, confusion.
Despite the fact that George Floyd’s murder was captured on film, Chauvin’s reaction made it painfully apparent that he, just like many of us, believed that white supremacy would save him from the consequences of his actions. He thought he would be acquitted. After all, the lynchings of Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and countless others have already shown us that when a Black life is snuffed out by a police officer, there are typically very few consequences. But not this time.
“Being able to know that there is justice for African American people or just people of color in general, period in this world. This is monumental. This is historic,” Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd told CNN. “This is history and all I can think about is Emmett Till. I think about Sandra Bland. I think about Miss [Gwen] Carr and Eric Garner. It’s so many people. We have new people being killed. Daunte Wright. I think about Jacob Blake. I think about Philando Castile. All of these people. They are all dead. You got people who live near me. Pamela Turner. She’s dead. And we all need justice. We’re all fighting for one reason and it’s justice for all. I think today has been an occasion where people can celebrate.”
Of course, the fight is not over. We still have to wait eight weeks for sentencing and we can only hope that the sentence is truly reflective of the fact that a man was killed for no reason other than the color of his skin. However, we can still recognize this verdict as a victory.