After the Verdict: Relief and Responsibility


The Denver Foundation
April 21, 2021

The weight of a terrible year lifting.

That’s what many of us felt when we heard that a Minneapolis jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of all three charges in the murder of George Floyd. In this case, the justice system validated what we all saw, what we all knew: Mr. Floyd’s death was unnecessary, inhumane, and criminal.

We hope that the conviction will bring some comfort to Mr. Floyd’s family. In this case, this time, there is accountability, if not justice.

Today’s verdict is a positive (overdue) step further, but there are many more steps to take to ensure no more lives are lost, that 'justice is for all.

That initial relief, though, was fraught with questions. Can we maintain momentum after pausing for a moment of reflection and peace? Will enough people realize that this is not the finish line but the starting line toward justice?

In Colorado, accountability has yet to come for Elijah McClain, a sensitive young man killed by the Aurora Police at 23. Even after a resounding public outcry and the intervention of Gov. Jared Polis, the officers involved have faced no charges. They lost their jobs. Elijah lost his life.

Rather than put this moment behind us, we must think about it every day, keeping our focus on ending institutional violence toward BIPOC Americans. We must charge this feeling of relief with responsibility.

For The Denver Foundation, that responsibility will show up in many ways. We will recommit, every day, to centering our work in racial equity. We will support accountable, racially equitable systems of public safety and justice. And we will partner with and invest in the Black community in Colorado. As our colleague LaDawn Sullivan, Director of the Foundation’s Black Resilience in Colorado (BRIC) Fund, reminds us:

“Black resilience is not about forgetting the past but leveraging our collective voices, strength, resources, and perseverance to create lasting changes for the future, to end systemic racism. Today’s verdict is a positive (overdue) step further, but there are many more steps to take to ensure no more lives are lost, that ‘justice is for all.’ There are many more steps to be taken to move Black communities from surviving to thriving.”

When that happens, what we’ll feel will be beyond relief. It will feel like real justice.

 

*Cover photo courtesy of Denver Artist Thomas “Detour” Evans