Dear Civil Rights and Social Justice Section Members,
Last year, while quarantined during the global pandemic, the world got a 9-minute glimpse into the reality African Americans have faced for generations — Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, effectively lynching him. Often, when officers act unlawfully, use excessive force, and commit brutal acts against Black people resulting in death, they are not held accountable for their actions. But last night, the world watched Ex-officer Derek Chauvin being ushered off to jail in handcuffs after a Minnesota jury delivered a guilty verdict on all three counts holding him accountable for his atrocious crime. This is what justice looks like.
While the Derek Chauvin conviction is a long overdue departure from what we are used to in these cases, it is only a first step toward justice. True justice demands national police reform, consistent with the two resolutions authored by our Civil Rights and Social Justice Section members and passed by the ABA House of Delegates last year. We cannot get comfortable simply because one case delivered justice for one family, when so many others never make national news and so many killings by officers go uncharged. There is still so much work to do. While I am hopeful that this verdict represents change on the horizon, I know our journey is far from over.
So today let us celebrate this victory and continue to pray for all the other families who have been forever impacted by police brutality and killings. And tomorrow let us continue our work toward eliminating racial injustice and ensuring civil rights and social justice for all.
Angela J. Scott, 2020-21 Section Chair, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice