So I am working from home like everyone else on the planet. Lots of Zoom meetings. Somehow seemingly working more than if I went to the office. So I walked into the kitchen to take a break and get away from the computer for a moment…. And the grab some caffeine.
Lord knows I needed that.
We usually have the TV on for background noise. Usually Food Channel. Sometimes Hallmark (sue me … they are addictive). This time it was ESPN.
I looked over and my heart went into my throat. The verdict was in. I had been following the trial as much as I could … did I mention working a lot? But I had not expected it to be this quick.
I waited. Work could wait.
I watched the judge read the verdicts: Guilty, Guilty, Guilty.
I was shocked.
I was fully expecting acquittals. Others I knew were expecting only a guilty count on the minor charge.
Bad cops are hardly every taken to trial and even less frequently convicted.
I knew the prosecution’s case was immensely strong and their case compelling. But I had fully expected the worst.
I thought about how much it had taken to get here. How justice had been gotten not because the system worked but because the system had been confronted.
The original police report had covered up the incident and framed things as George Floyd escalating things. When it had been the reverse. The perpetrators had been allowed to set the story. (the actual police report is pictured)
It had taken the video and protests to make truth come to light. Global protests. Protests that shut down cities across the world.
Think about that for a second.
If the video hadn’t been there and thousands… millions… of people had not expressed outrage would we have even had a trial?
I know people will try to say this was the system working. He went to jail after all right?
But this is a textbook case of why the system doesn’t work for many.
In order to get an investigation into someone’s death they had to protest in the streets and produce incontrovertible evidence.
The incident report for Breonna Taylor listed her injuries as “none” despite her being shot 8 times.
The policy report for Ahmaud Arbery cited that he had “attacked violently” and 3 different District Attorneys recommended against arresting the assailants. The video posted (ironically by the assailants themselves) refuted that… but only after going viral on social media were arrests made.
Trayvon Martin had no video.
Police have a hard job. They run in when others run away. The stress has to be astronomical. There are many good police officers and it is a noble profession.
And the situations they are asked to handle are messy. There is sometimes no win. The truth is messy. But that doesn’t mean the truth should be obscured. That doesn’t mean when someone’s life is taken there shouldn’t be fact finding and accountability.
It erodes trust in the authority meant to protect: police, District attorneys,… the entire system. Without that trust what do you have?
Something has to change. It shouldn’t take people marching in the streets to have the truth come out. Without the truth, without accountability, how can you gain the trust of the community?
I don’t have an answer. These are difficult issues with even harder solutions. But we need to listen. People marched in the streets. They have something to say. They shouldn’t be dismissed. There’s an old saying: “When one person calls you an ass ignore them, when seven people call you an ass buy a saddle”. If literally millions of people say the system is broken, I should probably listen.
As always I hope this helps. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
All the best,