On April 20, 2021, the jury rightfully returned a guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, and on July 1, 2021, he was sentenced to 270 months in prison for the murder of George Floyd. Though this outcome brought a collective sigh of relief to communities across the country, there is much work to be done to reform our criminal justice system and ensure that Black, Indigenous, and other people of color are treated equally under the law. As Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said, this verdict “is accountability, which is the first step towards justice.” Despite the verdict, George Floyd cannot return home to his family, alive and free from police harassment and brutality. True justice, Mr. Ellison said, “implies true restoration.”
A full year after the murder of George Floyd, the nation continues to reflect on the state of policing in this country. The verdict and sentence against Derek Chauvin provides minimum accountability, as he is only one of the four officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s murder, in a policing system with which we must urgently reckon. Recently, we have learned of the murders of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old man from Minneapolis, Minnesota; Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy from Chicago, Illinois; and Ma’Khia Bryant, a 15-year-old girl from Columbus, Ohio. Although no charges or convictions against the police officers involved will bring these individuals back, we can and must work to dismantle the systems of oppression targeting people of color in America to prevent further senseless harm and loss of life.
Sanford Heisler Sharp firm management and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee are dedicated to ensuring that all of us at the firm are doing our part to further the goals of racial justice, both through the casework we do each day and by continuing these conversations within the firm. We encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on ways you can advocate for a more just future within your communities and stand as allies to the oppressed.