But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. – Amos 5:24
Like most of you, I have been following the Derek Chauvin trial with deep concern and sadness. It seemed very apparent to me that George Floyd did not have to die, and Derek Chauvin needed to be held accountable. The fact that a jury of his peers reached that conclusion gives me a glimmer of hope that we can make the necessary changes so this doesn’t happen again and again.
However, this one verdict does not make this the norm, and we have to continue to press the case that Black Lives Matter, period. It is up to all of us to keep pressing our law enforcement, political and justice systems to make the reforms necessary that Black and Brown people are not singled out and subject to violence and death.
We have to remember that this verdict represents the basement and not the ceiling of what needs to take place in our nation. It is the start of justice, but only the start. All of us need to be held accountable. All of us need to feel the complicity of racial violence and unnecessary deaths. All of us need to repent!
There is no true victory in today’s verdict. The only victory would have been that George Floyd didn’t die, and since we cannot change that reality, a victory would be that there will be no more unnecessary George Floyd’s deaths for others.
Nor does this change the reality of fear for Black and Brown people in our society. We have to name that fear, and do everything we can to alleviate such fear in the future. The fact that many of us do not have to have “that conversation” with our children about how to deal with the police in order not to be hurt or killed speaks volumes of how we are so insulated from this fear. Yet our Black and Brown siblings face this fear every single day.
We need to continue to pray for George Floyd’s family and also for Derek Chauvin. We can hate the crime that he committed, but we are taught never to demonize the person. We need to pray for his soul and for the confession and reform that is possible. Justice has been served, but we have to wait for final sentencing. We are far from over this.
The trial of Derek Chauvin is over, but our work for justice and righteousness has just begun.
Be the Hope.
Grant J. Hagiya is Los Angeles area resident bishop of the United Methodist Church’s California-Pacific Conference.