“Those who invoke history will certainly be heard by history. And they will have to accept the verdict.” Dag Hammarskjold

While watching the State of Minnesota V. Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial, I was filled with mixed emotions-anger, rage, sadness, and brokenheartedness.  To me, the trial was a judgment of America’s sensibilities and felt like America itself was on trial. But in reality, the trial was to determine IF the actions of a white police officer, who kept his knee on the neck, of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, for nearly 9 minutes as he before taking his last breath, cried out “I CAN’T BREATHE”, as a crowd of spectators looking on filmed the entire crime, were justified. As I watched, I wondered, would America see a crime? OR Would they see this trial in color? Would America get it right? Would America do the right thing? And at the end of a 3-week trial, and after 10 hours of jury deliberation, THE VERDICT IS IN!!! NOW, both George Floyd, AND America COULD FINALLY BREATHE!!!  Did you think America could be fair? Did you think America would get it right? I DID!! With all eyes watching, I knew that America would unequivocally get it right and last week, America DID just that!!!    America got it right AND……… THE VERDICT IS IN!!!   So for this week’s blog,  let’s talk SHIP, WHY? Because THE VERDICT IS IN!!!  

I was relieved and elated with the verdict!! NOT because a police officer is going to jail for a crime that he actually committed, I’m elated because America got it ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.  See for me this trial wasn’t a Black and White issue. Sure those elements were factors but that’s NOT what the trial was about to me. For me, this trial was about basic human decency. It was about Right and Wrong. It was NOT about US or THEM!! It was NOT about Black or White!! It was NOT about People or Police!! Not at all. It was about Right and Wrong. Simple as that. But, I had to wonder, did America feel the same? Would America acquit a police officer that committed a murder captured on videotaped in broad daylight? OR Would they find him guilty? I was curious, how would America respond?

The doubt and uncertainty about how America would respond are buried deep in its history of exclusion. Let’s face it, in this country, NOT everyone is treated equally or fairly. Yet, America, without acknowledging its disparities, has been a SHIP that has always tried to sail with unpatched HOLES IN ITS SHIP. It’s IMPOSSIBLE!!! These holes represent hate, racism, social injustices, inequality, etc. and as long as these unpatched holes exist in America’s SHIP (or any relationSHIP) they will continue to impede its FORWARD progress. Although the SHIPS unpatched holes date back to America’s beginning, the widening of these holes can be attributed to the racist rants of the former president, who single-handedly fostered an environment where racism was encouraged to thrive and grow.  So much so, that a white police officer, in broad daylight, felt comfortable and confident enough to use excessive force to murder a subdued, hand-cuffed African-American man, while being videotaped, with NO expectation of receiving any consequences. But, THE VERDICT IS IN!!! 

For me, there was NO doubt, this trial was simply about Right and Wrong!!! There was nothing else to decide other than IF this police officer’s actions were Right or Wrong? Would good and decent people consider his behavior right? Would the blue wall protect him? Almost immediately, we discovered that Americans could and would “do the right thing.” As the tearful witnesses took the stand, including 17-year-old, Darnella Frazier, who while headed to the store for candy with her cousin, filmed the murder on her iPhone, or the firefighter passing by on her way to help out at a community garden, one by one, witness after witness relived their traumatic experience by recounting their observations and interactions with the police on that deadly day. They ALL truthfully described what they observed as being wrong. Even the police department, through their truthful testimonies, smashed through the blue wall when police superiors- chiefs, and coworkers alikeALL testified that the police officer’s behavior was excessive, unnecessary, and deadly. Officer after officer took the stand, and truthfully acknowledged and admitted that the accused officer didn’t adhere to police policies and that his behavior and actions were wrong.  These witnesses told the truth. They did the right thing, truth prevailed, and now THE VERDICT IS IN!!!

As an African-American woman, already burdened by all the existing and recurring injustices committed toward African-Americans, I had to detach my feelings from those current and past injustices and had to view this trial through my hopeful American eyes. Despite already knowing that America’s justice is typically skin deep, I remained confident and hopeful that the accused officer would be convicted of murder based on the wrongness of his actions and knew that America would get it right! They had no other choice. Where would you find 12 people who could repeatedly watch this 9-minute video of the murder and still find him innocent? Where? You wouldn’t. You couldn’t!! I am convinced that you could NOT find 12 people that would find the actions of this police officer justified, let alone right. And I was right……….THE VERDICT IS IN!!! GUILTY of ALL 3 charges- second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter and faces upwards of 40 years in prison. THE VERDICT WAS IN and America got it ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!!

In this trial, the witnesses, and the jury working together, resulted in America GETTING IT RIGHT. But this trial revealed much, much, more. THE VERDICT IS IN and the trial revealed that America would NO longer accept videotaped murders of our sons and daughters at the hands of the police. THE VERDICT IS IN and the trial revealed that Americans would stand up for injustices and get involved. THE VERDICT IS IN and the trial revealed that Americans can work together to silence the voice of hate and racism. THE VERDICT WAS IN and the trial revealed that when America is truthful, the system can and will work. THE VERDICT IS IN, and the trial revealed that the majority of Americans want to move FORWARD and free themselves from America’s hateful and racist past. THE VERDICT IS IN and the trial revealed that if America would patch up the racist holes in its SHIP, we could ALL sail FORWARD and finally reach the destinations of equality, peace, harmony, and opportunity for ALL of its citizenry. Now America KNOWS that THE VERDICT IS IN!!!!!

America got it right because on May 25th, 2020, COURT was already being held, when millions of outraged citizens took to the streets in EVERY major city in America and across the Nation to protest the senseless and unnecessary murder of George Floyd. So make no mistake about it, that although in Minnesota they had reached a VERDICT, THE PEOPLE’S VERDICT WAS ALREADY IN!!! But what about the next time? What will the VERDICT be then? Still looking through my hopeful American eyes, I believe we could experience many more favorable VERDICTS, but we have to work together. It starts with us being mindful, that our personal courts are ALWAYS in SESSION, and that our choices and decisions are the evidence used to decide OUR VERDICTS. It’s not too late to change your VERDICT before the jury heads out for deliberations. Just do the right thing, let’s look out for each other and work toward justice, equality, and opportunities in our personal lives, AND in the lives of others. Based on your evidence, what will YOUR VERDICT BE? In the case of the State of Minnesota V. Derek Chauvin, THE VERDICT IS IN, GUILTY AS CHARGED!!!!

SHIP TALK: What are your thoughts on the trial? What’s YOUR VERDICT?

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