It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since the world learned that George Floyd had been murdered by former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.
On May 25th, 2020, Floyd was apprehended by four police officers; one of which knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
A jury ruled earlier this year that Chauvin was guilty on three counts: unintentional second-degree murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter. His sentencing is planned to be heard in June 2021.
Though the conviction may be a slither of what we know as ‘justice’, the fact is, we should never have had to have a trial in the first place. Floyd should still be alive.
12 months on, memorial events and marches are set to take place not just across the United States, but the globe. Though there’s not much to celebrate, some are being praised for the actions they have taken to make positive change in the past year.
One of those for example, is 12-year-old Ebele Azikiwe from New Jersey, who was just days away from finishing sixth grade when the protests surrounding Floyd’s murder began. After being sat down by her mother and told that “this is what it is like to be Black in America”, she felt compelled to write a letter to her school principal.
In that message, she spoke about how the school needed new curriculum and better teaching around Black history. After the letter was passed onto the school's district superintendent, they in turn made it a requirement in high schools to take a Black history course to graduate.
This is just one example of the stunning and yet simple work done to make sure that the next generation grow up with more respect for one another no matter the colour of their skin.
Floyd's family is set to meet with President Joe Biden along with congressional lawmakers later today, after President Biden called for Congress to pass a police reform bill by the one-year anniversary. That deadline will be missed, but the President is hopeful that it can still be passed in the very near future.
The bill aims to end police techniques such as choking and carotid holds, which would be banned at the federal level. Funding for local and state police agencies would be conditioned on those agencies outlawing them. It also pushes for improvements to be made in police training, along with investment in community programs that would improve policing overall.
Let’s hope that the future of this world is a brighter one than much of what we’ve seen in recent months and years.