George Floyd mattered. George Floyd was loved and cherished by family and friends. George Floyd’s life had value and meaning. George Floyd mattered. Black lives matter.
Yesterday, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd while on duty. Many view this verdict as a key victory in the arduous and ongoing fight to end police violence. However, this verdict will not bring back George Floyd, it will not end the suffering of his family and friends, and it alone will not make Black people safer in their interactions with police.
The rate of police killings of Black Americans remains more than double that of white Americans and this deadly racism has not decreased in the months since George Floyd’s death. Just last week, Daunte Wright, a young Black man, was shot and killed after being pulled over by police. Justice still hasn’t been served in the case of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in her home last year during a police invasion. Black people continue to live under the threat of ongoing oppression and racist violence.
Racism is just as pervasive in Canada. Racism is embedded in Canada’s education systems, health services, political system, in our workplaces, unions, and police services. A CBC investigative report, studying fatal encounters with police in Canada from 2000 – 2017, proved that race plays a significant factor in the use of deadly force. Though Black people make up only 8.3% of Toronto’s population, they represented 37% of deadly force victims. In Winnipeg, Indigenous people represent roughly 10.6% of the population, yet nearly two-thirds of victims over the same period. Just last year, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a young Black woman, died following a police interaction in Toronto and her death remains under investigation. Black, Indigenous, and racialized people continue to fight for a future free from police violence and discrimination.
“This one guilty verdict does not dismantle a system built on white supremacy. The systemic racism that permitted a police officer to murder George Floyd must be addressed,” said PSAC National Executive Vice-President Sharon DeSousa.
We must continue the work to build anti-racist communities, institutions, unions and places of work. Through the tireless activism of Black people, the world took notice of George Floyd’s death and demanded change. The verdict in the Chauvin trial should not let us become complacent. Instead, it should be a rallying cry to continue to educate, organize and demand a society that recognizes that Black lives matter.
This article has also been posted on the PSAC website.