Today we witnessed the conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is our hope that this verdict sets precedent for future cases, as we’ve seen far too many people walk away after needlessly taking the lives of Black and Brown people in our country.
Over these past few weeks, horrific imagery on the news has been persistent, whether it’s a replaying of the footage of Mr. Floyd’s killing, footage from other recent killings by law enforcement officers, or fallout from horrendous gun violence in our nation. This follows a year of unprecedented suffering and trauma being broadcast 24/7 – we desperately need space for healing, and it is our hope that this verdict can help put us on that path.
Following this senseless killing we rose up and acknowledged that this is not what policing looks like – a knee on a man’s neck, shrouds of bullets following a no-knock warrant, racial profiling, none of this is what we entrust our law enforcement officers with nor is it what we should expect of them or accept from them. We took on a collaborative reimagining of public safety in our community in an effort to prevent future tragedies from happening here, and to ensure a more harmonious and sustainable relationship between law enforcement and our communities. It is imperative that we build upon this work and push even farther to a place of more just outcomes and safer communities for us all.
While this verdict is an acknowledgement of the terror inflicted on Black lives, no matter the outcome of this trial we know that justice cannot be fully served because George Floyd cannot be brought back to life.
These decisions by our justice-system often leave us in pain and disillusion – palpable and salient emotions - but encourage you to be resolved as a community that we will not stand for systemic inequity and will use all of the powers of the citizenry to continue to overcome all forms of oppression.
Chairwoman of the Tompkins County Legislature