Healing communities need more than a guilty verdict

By Brenda de la Cruz

Healing communities need more than a guilty verdict. 

Former Officer Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict will not make a difference and will soon be a thing of the past.

On April 21 many watched with anticipation as the trial involving former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin came to an end. 

The former officer was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the murder of George Floyd.

 While that is a big step in the direction of justice for unarmed minorities murdered by law enforcement, it is not enough. 

Seldom are officers held responsible for murdering people of color at higher rates than their White counterparts, and if they are, chances of a conviction are even lower.

 The high rate of people of color being gunned down while unarmed will continue until it is tackled collectively through policy and reform. 

This guilty verdict will soon fade away with any new shootings and killings of Black and Brown individuals.

 It happened multiple times where officers are able to deescalate a violent situation without killing anyone, but the suspect is more than often White. 

However, more than often when the suspect is Black, it turns into an “officer involved shooting.” 

It poses the question of what the difference is, and why. 

Many recent incidents involving White suspects carrying weapons show them walking up to police officers with said weapons in hand, yet they are rarely hurt. 

Such as in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old from Kenosha, WI armed with an AR-15 style rifle who killed two people and wounded another during the protests against police brutality in 2020. 

The teenager was not apprehended immediately and when he was confronted by police, it was in a calm manner. He was taken in alive.

 However, many minorities who are unarmed and stopped for a minor traffic violations versus killing two people, are often harassed and killed. 

Not all minorities that are confronted by police are killed, but the rates are higher than that of White people engaged by police.

 In  more recent years, America has seen more and more abuse of power by law enforcement nationwide. 

Nothing will change or matter until police are affected where it matters: their pockets. When a police officer is held responsible for misconduct, they don’t personally see this hit their pockets. 

In fact, the city or state they reside or work in is who pays for it through taxes. 

Police officers who commit crimes and are found guilty of misconduct should be penalized through their pension. That will prove a point and be a fast lesson.

The trend of the world knowing America is the place where officers don’t “protect and serve” but rather kills its unarmed citizens, is not something to be proud of. 

This is not to say that if people commit a crime, they should not be arrested or penalized, but it is to say they should not die for it.

Police officers are meant to stop crime, they are not the judges or executioners. 

Change is needed to make a long-lasting effect in police brutality and abuse of power, not just one guilty verdict.

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