Like millions of other citizens of the world who have an unquenchable penchant for justice, I raised my hands in praise and shouted with victory after the murderer of George Floyd was convicted on all three counts in a Minneapolis courtroom.
But the outcome remained far from a forgone conclusion, despite the evidence which the prosecution so eloquently presented including a gripping nine-minute video which captured the final moments of Floyd’s life as former police officer Derek Chauvin wielded his knee as a weapon on the neck of George Floyd.
Don’t get it twisted. I tend to see the world with the case half full, not half empty.
So, while I am not a pessimist, I understandably had serious doubts that the jury would, in the prophetic words of Spike Lee, “do the right thing.”
Because I refuse to keep my head buried in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, I need only look at American history since 1619 to recognize that Blacks have always been considered as and treated like “second-class citizens.”
Our cries, our pleas, our prayers for justice have, more often than not. gone unfulfilled, ignored and derailed. Fortunately, this time justice has prevailed.
Yet, as I celebrate, I also mourn.
As a veteran reporter in Miami, I remember being called on the scene when a Black teenager, Trayvon Martin, was confronted, stalked and subsequently murdered in an Orlando suburb by a “rent-a-cop” named George Zimmerman.
I spoke with and talked to Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton and his father, Tracy Martin and witnessed their pain – pain which as a parent I could not imagine enduring.
I listened to the family’s attorney – a relatively unknown lawyer at the time, Benjamin Crump, as he laid out the facts of the case against Zimmerman and shared his predictions for the outcome of the dramatic and emotionally-charged case.
I reflected on the pontifications of the Rev. Al Sharpton who, like Benjamin, believed that justice would be served.
And then the verdict came in: not guilty.
America has recorded the lynching of hundreds, if not thousands, of Black men, women and children whose murderers were allowed to leave the scenes of their crimes, confident that they would never have to answer for their dastardly deeds.
So many names, so many deaths, so many senseless acts of the powerful exerting their will upon the powerless. So many Black souls who have been relegated to “white privilege purgatory,” whispering in our ears with the hopes that one day, their spirits will find a semblance of peace.
As Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison remarked shortly after the verdict in the George Floyd trial was announced, “the work has culminated today but I would not call the verdict ‘justice.’ For justice implies true restoration. Instead, I see today as one step toward accountability – a first step toward justice.”
But at least, if for only a moment, Blacks have a reason to celebrate and to believe in a system of justice that has routinely eluded and mistreated us at every step.
I can only pray that tomorrow will bring new examples of true justice . . . for all.