It has been almost a year since George Perry Floyd breathed for the last time face down on a street in Minneapolis on the evening of May 25, 2020.
It has been almost a year since we learned that the official report issued by the Minneapolis Police Department concerning his death was false.
It has been almost a year since we first saw footage taken by Darnella Frazier, then 17 years old, of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s knees pressed against George Floyd’s neck and back as the helpless man begged, struggled and then stopped breathing.
Thanks to Frazier’s courage in using her mobile phone to record what Chauvin did, the world has been waiting for almost a year to learn if Chauvin would be found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Floyd stopped breathing almost a year ago.
Since we learned the truth about the way he died, the rest of the world has hoped for the moment when we could breathe the words “guilty” and “murderer” whenever we mention Derek Chauvin.
That moment arrived shortly after 4 p.m. (Central Standard Time) on April 20, 2021, when Judge Peter Cahill read the word “guilty” for each verdict returned by the jury.
At that moment, we learned that our hopes for accountability concerning the death of George Floyd were not in vain.
The guilty verdicts shed new light and are the latest reminders of a truth Black people in the United States have always known. Hope is never easy.
It was not easy to hope truth would prevail.
It was not easy to hope that the truth about systemic abuse and murder of Black, brown, Indigenous and Asian-Pacific Island people by police officers would be exposed.
Even after that truth was exposed, it was not easy to hope the truth would be affirmed by a legal system established to disenfranchise, exploit, dehumanize and criminalize Black, brown, Indigenous and Asian-Pacific Island people.
It was not easy to hope white people who breathe the air of privilege from abusive and homicidal law enforcement conduct would somehow treat what happened to George Floyd as murder.
It was not easy to hope Derek Chauvin would be held accountable.
It was not easy because we remember that many other people have been killed and maimed by law enforcement officers and white vigilantes, yet their fates were ignored, excused and discounted before Chauvin killed George Floyd.
Michael Brown Jr.
Bobby Moore II
James Byrd Jr.
East St. Louis, Illinois
So many names. So many places. So much unaccountability.
Hope is never easy for Black people whenever we encounter white people and the policing system established to maintain white supremacy. We have always known this truth.
Darnella Frazier’s video showing how George Floyd was slain allowed the rest of the world to know why.
George Floyd’s family showed the world what the hard work of hope involves when Black people have faced the horrors of white supremacy and the systemic racism of policing in the United States.
Hope is angry.
Hope is sad.
Hope demands attention from others who would prefer to not see, know, believe and act on horrible truth.
None of that is easy, ever.
Nevertheless, Darnella Frazier hoped.
The other people who watched Derek Chauvin and three other police officers murder George Floyd hoped.
Floyd’s family hoped.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his legal team hoped.
Minneapolis and Minnesota police and political leaders hoped.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hoped.
The rest of the world hoped.
Meanwhile, Derek Chauvin hoped.
Chauvin hoped to get away with murder. He and his legal team hoped that white privilege, white supremacy and systemic racism would prevail, again, over truth.
On the afternoon of April 20, 2021, 12 jurors returned verdicts finding Chauvin guilty of murder in the second degree, murder in the third degree and manslaughter in the death of George Perry Floyd.
Floyd’s last faint breath was not easy. It was a sigh of hope.
Shortly after 4 p.m. Central Time on April 20, 2021, we began breathing for him.
Rest, brother. Rest now. Rest in peace, at last. We will continue your fight.
Author’s note: A reflection published on my personal blog the week of Floyd’s death is available here.
Pastor at New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, a state court trial judge, a trustee of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, author of one book and three blogs, and a consultant on cultural competency and inclusion.