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Justice was served yesterday. A Minneapolis jury returned a verdict against former police officer Derek Chauvin on all counts for the murder of George Floyd.

For almost a year, we all have waited for this moment after watching the horrific image of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes, draining the life from his body as he begged for mercy. We will always remember his words: I can’t breathe. 

That cruel, inhumane assault ignited protests across the globe, condemning an act that Black people have endured for generations: The death of another unarmed Black man at the hands of those who have been sworn to protect and serve.

Fittingly, it became a moment when we stood up and collectively stated that “enough is enough.”  Black lives matter—and intentional steps must be taken to protect us.

This time was different. After 10 hours of deliberation, the mixed-race jury in the Chauvin sent a clear message in what has been described as “historic. And the response reverberated from the jubilant cheers from crowds on city streets across the nation to the White House where President Biden delivered a message of a new beginning.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison asserted in his post-trial statement: “I would not call today’s verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step toward justice.”

Simply put, such acts of police brutality cannot be tolerated or allowed to go unchecked. There must always be consequences.

Now that the verdict has been rendered, this is not the end of the case. The next stage is sentencing in which we will find out in eight weeks how much time Chauvin will spend behind bars.

In this moment, we must also realize that a family continues to suffer the loss of their loved one—a father, a son, and a brother.  And we must take time to remember those who have senselessly lost their lives without such accountability: Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sean Bell, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Breoanna Taylor, Daunte Wright, and the countless others who fell victim to similar fatal incidents.

The George Floyd tragedy has made the world take notice that the lives of Black Americans have been devalued and marginalized for far too long by not only focusing on the discrimination and systemic racism that permeates our criminal justice system but nearly every other American institution. As such, we cannot afford to be silent when it comes to any action that seeks to place us in mortal jeopardy, deny our fundamental rights, hinder our economic progress, or diminish our dignity.

Let’s use this moment to fuel our vigilance in continuing our fight and leveraging our power—from communities of color to the boardrooms of corporate America—to ensure that police violence against Black people is no longer perpetrated without repercussions and real justice will not remain fleeting. In tandem with that charge, we must be unequivocal in our stand and take every necessary action to gain the economic, racial, and social equity that we deserve.

To paraphrase Attorney General Ellison, this is the work of our generation. We must do so to honor those we lost and advance the lives of future generations.

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