(WASHINGTON)—The jury’s verdict today that Derek Chauvin is guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd offers a small glimmer of hope that the people of the United States recognize that law enforcement officers must face consequences for their wrongdoing. Floyd’s family has now seen some measure of accountability for Chauvin’s actions. However, there is much work to be done to eliminate the racism that permeates our law enforcement systems.
Chauvin’s use of force with George Floyd—kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes—was excessive and deadly, and accountability for that action was essential. But it’s only a drop in the bucket. Black people in this country are disproportionately stopped, arrested, and the victims of excessive force by law enforcement—and the reality is that it is exceedingly rare for police to face criminal liability for this abuse.
Furthermore, this trial was yet another moment in a bleak cycle in which Black people are senselessly killed by the police, protests are sparked that in turn lead to unnecessary arrests or deaths, and the law enforcement officials who perpetrate these acts face little accountability. Just during this trial alone, at least 64 people in the U.S. were killed during an encounter with the police, with Black and Latino people making up more than half of those deaths.
There is a toxic culture in the law enforcement system, one in which police often view the communities they serve as the enemy rather than as people in need of protection. This problem is exacerbated by the near blanket impunity government officials benefit from when they abuse their power. These systemic problems call for broad reform at the local, state, and federal levels. To ensure that law enforcement officials respect the dignity and humanity of Black people in the United States, they must face accountability when they violate individuals’ rights.
We stand with all of those fighting for accountability. There can be no peace without it.
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing.
We champion reforms to achieve a more effective, ethical, and accountable federal government that safeguards constitutional principles.