Published 21 April 2021

Derek Chauvin’s Trial: Verdicts are not a substitute for policy change

Yesterday, with the release of the Derek Chauvin verdict, we acknowledge some level of accountability, but know that the road to justice is long and arduous. As Deray Mckesson points out: accountability is what happens after the trauma, justice is the idea that the trauma shouldn’t exist in the first place. This distinction rings loudly, as less than 24 hours after the verdict was announced, Chicago Police took the life of 16 year old Ma’khia Bryant; a child who called 911 because she needed help.

Credit to @britrican

As the Black Lives Matter movement reminds us, accountability itself is not justice. BLM goes on to say, “Justice would mean George Floyd would be here. Justice would mean a system not rooted in white supremacy. It would be the end of state-sanctioned violence. It would be defunded police. It would be investments in our communities.”

As Black Youth Project 100 tells us, “Just last week, Daunte Wright was killed in Minnesota, less than thirty miles from where George Floyd was killed. Wright’s murder shows us that prosecuting police does not keep them from killing our people. We do not want more prosecutions and convictions. We do not want ‘reasonable’ forms of violence. We do not want more body cameras so we can watch police murder our people. We do not want better training for officers to further harm us. We want our people to live. We want abolition. We want space for the things that help us thrive.”

As AOC highlights, we are holding a lot of complex emotions — both celebrating a victory and also echoing that this, for good reason, doesn’t feel like justice. She explains why: “…Justice is when you’re pulled over, there not being a gun that’s a part of that interaction because you have a headlight out. Justice is your school system not having or not being a part of a school to prison pipeline. Justice is a municipality and a government that does not value military and armaments more than it values healthcare, education, and housing.” 

Continue Making Good Trouble

For more learning on broader movements for change, check out Abolition for the People, a project produced by Kaepernick Publishing that highlights stories from organizers to academics. Learn about proposed policy changes such as the Breathe Act, which divests taxpayer dollars from brutal and discriminatory policing and invests in a new vision of public safety. 

Acknowledge what is happening in the world — out loud — with your team. As Terina Allen urges in her article 5 Conversations Credible Leaders Must Have In This Moment, “Credible leaders aren’t neutral about George Floyd, racism or inequality.” In addition to making space for these critical conversations every team should be having, allow Black colleagues to opt out of these conversations and have spaces for themselves. Make sure you are taking the time to plan and facilitate conversations well, understanding the negative impact that poor planning can have on Black team members. Lastly, a reminder to take care of yourself. Know that your team members likely need space and time off. Carve out ways for them to take mental health breaks. This is a marathon, not a sprint. 

To take immediate action right now, please consider donating to the following organizations: 

  • Justice for Black Girls: expanding global knowledge of how US-based systems of power respond to and perpetuate the abuse of Black girls in schools, in prisons, and in protest.
  • The Loveland Foundation: bringing opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls, through fellowships, residency programs, therapy, and more.
  • Color of Change: moving decision makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people, and all people.
  • More Minnesota-based resources

Roshen Sethna
Roshen Sethna
Partner, Civic

When she's not knee deep in Brené Brown books, Roshen is passionate about deepening her understanding of leadership development, change management, product, and digital innovation.

Anna Gibbons
Anna Gibbons
Growth Manager

Anna has a passion for deepening connections among change makers, sharing stories of social impact, and all things Pacific Northwest.