There can never truly be justice for George Floyd, but we got as close to it as we can expect to come Tuesday when a jury found killer cop Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts in Floyd’s horrific death. The nation will never forget what it saw as Chauvin cavalierly snuffed out Floyd’s life. The fact that it was an imperfect life in no way justifies any of what transpired. Now at least Chauvin will pay the Earthly price for what he did, likely spending decades in prison, probably in isolation, barring any appeals. He deserves to never take another breath as a free man.
But Chauvin is not every cop. He’s not most cops. Police can certainly go on power trips, treat people with disrespect and escalate situations into violence that need never have happened, but only a few are psychopaths like Chauvin. Most police killings of civilians occur rapidly, as split-second decisions are made, not over several minutes.
We were glad to see the verdict did not result in violent protests around the country, as one going the other way would have. There was violent unrest in Portland, Ore., but that’s just the way of life in that sad city now. Elsewhere, with adults in charge, people mostly kept a level head.
What’s next? A police reform bill in Congress named for Floyd would ban chokeholds; let people who sue police go after their assets; bar no-knock warrants in federal drug cases; and create a nationwide misconduct registry. Support is split along party lines, with Democrats for and Republicans against, but perhaps a compromise can be found between this bill and another, supported by black Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. The two sides are talking.
Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones talking. If Chauvin successfully appeals his case, it will likely be due to reckless public comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters that could be seen as affecting the jury, not to mention fomenting violence. Even the judge said her words could end up getting the case overturned. That would be a disaster. President Biden also spoke about the case, unwisely, but at least he did so after the jury had been sequestered.
There are many — too many — other killings by police that we have to contend with. Each is unique. Few are as clear-cut as Floyd’s death. Elected officials, other public figures and the media should not create false narratives around them but should let us see the cases and the people involved individually. Everyone should be treated fairly and equally in our society. Maybe we’re just a little closer to that now.