April 20th, 2021 — Rabbi Sharon Brous; Melissa Balaban, CEO; Brooke Wirtschafter, Director of Community Organizing
We greet the news of the guilty verdicts in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd with relief. This is a moment of great significance for our country.
We are also painfully aware that had Darnella Frazier, at 17 years old, not shown the presence of mind and courage to take out her phone and start recording, this verdict would have been highly unlikely.
And so, we reject the bad-apple narrative. Yes, this officer’s behavior was particularly egregious, but the problem is unequivocally systemic. We must now rededicate ourselves to the work of community safety, so that Black people, and all people, can truly thrive in this country.
We grieve alongside the Floyd family, including his young daughter, who will grow up without a father. And we remember all those who have lost loved ones to police violence, even in this past week, lifting up the names of Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and—as of today—16-year-old Makhia Bryant.
Today’s verdict was an act of accountability that is generations overdue. It is one step in the national teshuvah, the reckoning that is absolutely essential to our nation’s transformation.
When George Floyd died, we took to the streets and said “may his memory be a revolution.” We prayed and marched for a revolution in the hearts and minds of Americans, for the spiritual strength and conviction to imagine and then build a new America: a justice-driven, multiracial democracy in which all of us can truly flourish.
Every revolution begins with a turning point, a moment that sparks the creative possibility of believing that there is another way. Let this terrible tragedy be that turning point for our nation. And let us do what we must to make Floyd’s memory both a blessing and a revolution.
NOTE: On Shabbat, Rabbi Brous spoke of the dangerous affliction of police and gun violence that has taken root in our nation, and threatens to destroy the whole body if it’s not rooted out. Read or listen here.