The killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 poured gallons of gasoline on the hot embers of unresolved unjustified killings of Blacks and Latinos and other people of color.

While we watched Derek Chauvin execute George Floyd by kneeling on the neck of this man who was subdued, hand cuffed and was a danger to no one, we could not believe our own eyes.

The plot to kill George Floyd began many years ago with slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws, massive discrimination, mass incarceration and a national police enforcement machine that beat, tortured, incarcerated, and killed people of color with impunity.

Derek Chauvin was but a god-awful instrument of weaponized racism in America. During the Obama administration they took steps to begin monitoring police and enforcing police consent decrees on cities where their police were producing unfounded acts of violence against the citizens. The Trump administration quickly withdrew consent decrees and sent a signal to all police that there was an open season on people of color. The Department of Justice under Trump became yet another instrument of systemic racism and oppression.

If Trump were still in office, by now he probably would have pardoned Chauvin just as he did racist Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The first report of the death of George Floyd made by the police made it sound like it was death of natural causes and that the police had called in medical help and that Floyd died in the hospital.

At that point Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis Chief of Police, had only seen police body cam images. It was not until he saw the footage captured by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier that he understood his officers had lied. Darnella Frazier’s video was soon on the internet and the world exploded, pushing people out into the streets not only in Minnesota, but nationally and internationally. My family and I joined these peaceful protests. Yet we continue to see the awful unnecessary killings by the police are still going on.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison stepped in to assume leadership of this case and organized an amazing and powerful team of lawyers, experts, investigators, and others, to present this most important case to a jury of Derek Chauvin’s peers. There is ample history of many not guilty, which had many worried that this former officer would be found innocent or might get at most, a slight slap on the hand.

Watching the trial, we saw strategic presentation of facts, while meanwhile the defense team had nothing with which to defend the inhumane actions by Derek Chauvin. Their grasping at straws crumpled in the face of truth. But for the video, all of those who witnessed this brutal murder, along with Attorney General Ellison’s incredible team, Derek Chauvin was convicted. This conviction was of a former policeman and the systemic racism of a police department. In this case, for the first time we saw good officers take the stand and condemn the brutal actions of this bad former officer.

We all know that this verdict of guilty was an important decision and we know that we have much serious work to do to correct and reform our law enforcement and systems of oppression. Our next step is the passage of The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

Just remember that it was a 17-year-old that gave us the evidence that changed the course of history and convicted this former officer.

Magdaleno Rose-Avila is a long-time human rights activist who worked with the UFW, on immigrant rights, and the NAACP. In 2020, he worked with the Georgia NAACP on voter registration and is presently working on the Georgia 2021 special Senatorial election.

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