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  • Writer's pictureMario Nicolais

Justice was too late for George Floyd, but we can seek broader justice

What began with three tragic words — “I can’t breathe” — ended with three more.

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Last week a Minnesota jury confirmed what anyone who watched video of George Floyd’s life slipping away already knew. Former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered Floyd in callous, cold blood.

The jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges brought against him: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Nearly a year of collective angst and anxiety culminated in a moment of cries and tears and chants and relief across the country.

After the initial wave of emotional relief washed away, more nuanced reactions took root. I found myself particularly drawn to the mantra that Chauvin’s conviction meant accountability, not justice.

There can never be justice for a man who lost his life in such unspeakable circumstances.

Floyd is dead. Neither Chauvin’s conviction nor his sentence will change that immutable fact. Floyd’s brothers will never speak to him again, and his daughter will grow up without her father’s presence.

But there can be a broader justice. One that requires significant reform and difficult change throughout various systems. Sparking that reform will likely be the enduring legacy left by Floyd.

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