Justice for George Floyd protest in Dallas, Texas. May 30, 2020 Photo: Sara Carpenter / Shutterstock.com

Charging George Floyd’s killers is only the beginning

  • June 4, 2020

Protest & Policing

Make no mistake, justice has not been served and it will not until we live a world free from police violence. The only way to achieve this is to keep the pressure on.

Nine days after the killing of George Floyd on May 25, the state of Minnesota officially pressed charges against the remaining three officers. All four are now in custody. Announced conjointly, the charges against Derek Chauvin, who held his knee down on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, were upgraded from third degree to second degree murder.

For many, this will signal progress. And not without reason. Few Americans can recall a time that this many officers were indicted, especially with such haste, for murdering a civilian — let alone a Black one.

However, amidst the rightful ocean of raised fists and chanted slogans in response to this news, let us not forget why these developments have fundamentally occurred: because we are pushing for it.

As was the case with Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd’s killers were apprehended only after their blatant sadism was caught on camera for the world to see. And the world saw it, and reacted in a way anyone with a scrap of humanity would: it rose up righteous anger.

In contrast, our justice system and its representatives reacted to that reaction; not to what those four Minneapolis police officers actually did. Not to the force Chauvin used or the apathy of his accomplices. Nor to the fact that Floyd was effectively murdered for a fake $20 bill in the midst of a global economic crisis and a pandemic which are having a disproportionately devastating effect on poor and non-white communities. No, our justice system only reacted to the public outrage that exploded in response to his death, and these charges are the result of officials being frightened and opting to capitulate — not because they have suddenly grown a conscience.

Make no mistake — killings by law enforcement do not occur in a vacuum. The individual pathologies of Derek Chauvin, Tao Thou, J Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane cannot precede the centuries of interlocking racist and classist blueprints that undergird the policing methodologies they were taught.

It is an easy wager that in the days to come mainstream news outlets will latch onto narratives that call upon the protests to end, centering a variety of incrementalist pundits who will slyly claim that the voting booth is now the best way forward. Their unifying mantra will be something to the effect of “justice has been served, and it’s time to heal.”

We must not fall for this drivel. Justice has not and is not being served. So far, the only thing that has happened is that a common sense ruling was scared out of the authorities. To this extent, justice not only has not been served, the restaurant that is supposed to serve it is not even open.

By idling and letting off the pressure now, we effectively forget that the camel’s back was ready to break way before George Floyd breathed his final breath.

The aim of these revolts, more than to see Chauvin and company behind bars, is to lay the foundation for a world free from police repression and state-sanctioned violence, the exoskeleton of capitalist consolidation practices. So applaud the jailing of these monsters that took George Floyd’s life and his family’s happiness. But do not credit the state. Credit yourselves. Then gear up, head back out to the street, and demand more.

John Goodhue

John Goodhue is a socialist freelance writer and editor living in Portland, OR.

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Source URL — https://roarmag.org/essays/charging-george-floyds-killers-is-only-the-beginning/

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