April 21, 2021, ATLANTA, GA — When I heard the “Guilty, Guilty, Guilty” verdict that marked the end of the George Floyd trial, I cried from a place of deep and mixed emotions. I felt grateful for a verdict that, at least in this case, produced an outcome that brought temporary relief for Black people and so many others everywhere. Yet the verdict will not bring back to life George Floyd, and I am deeply saddened for the sacrifice and suffering of George Floyd and his family and loved ones.
George Floyd’s life had dignity and meaning. And I could not help but think of the loss of so many other unarmed Black men, women, and children whose lives have been lost due to police brutality.
Now, we must ensure that George’s life and all the others before him – whom we remember and love — are not in vain. We must make this the turning point that is desperately needed in the country to break down the systems of oppression that are embedded in laws, attitudes and law enforcement practices across the sectors of our lives: law enforcement, housing, employment, education, healthcare and small business in this nation.
The verdict must declare that police officers and a systemically racist criminal justice system are held to a new “protect and serve” standard, one that recognizes the humanity in everyone whose lives are in their hands. Let’s make today mark a renewed commitment to dismantle systemic racism in this country that claims the lives of too many solely based on the color of their skin. Let’s make it a new day for racial justice, policing and police accountability for Black people and our nation. A new day of respect for humanity and race relations to fulfill George Floyd’s daughter Gianna’s prophesy that her Daddy “changed the world.”
We join the family, loved ones, and community where George Floyd lived along with so many across the world in continuing to mourn his loss. And we vow to continue our fight for a nation and society that protects and values Black lives. We owe a debt to Mr. Floyd and to the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who reacted with outrage and unity in declaring “Black Lives Matter” throughout the world. Their activism has strengthened our communities and the movement for reforms in policing that can save countless other lives.
It is up to each of us to continue to demand racial justice and equity of treatment under the law. Please join the Urban League of Greater Atlanta in calling for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, a police reform and accountability measure that would set national standards of acceptable police practices and combat excessive force and racial bias in policing. Let’s come together now as one family across this nation to get this legislation passed, as a critical step, so we can move forward with urgency together.
Today’s verdict gives us a measure of faith that the justice system is not blind. It can see us.