Derek Chauvin Trial Reopens Wounds, Possibility of Civil Unrest

Opinion: Black Iowans ponder #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd as trial begins.

When my father died years ago, the world suddenly felt scary, and I felt unprotected.

When my mother died years later, the pain plunged me into a dark sea of despair, and I later emerged with grief as a lifelong companion.

The death of my parents brought new dimensions of pain. Watching the homicide of George Floyd on video last May returned a feeling of agony to my soul. While protesters marched across the nation against police brutality, I went through the stages of grief like Floyd had been a member of my own family.

Anger ☑️
Denial ☑️
Acceptance? Never.

Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial is slated to begin today for his part in the murder of Floyd. You can watch the trial live on Court TV. Chauvin’s three cowardly co-conspirators, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, will face trial later this year.

My parents died of medical conditions. Floyd’s life ended because a white cop felt empowered to serve as his judge, jury and executioner because of a racist system of policing that routinely devalues Black life.

A blue police uniform is a specter of death in many Black communities — a harbinger of doom, not help. Racial profiling is real — check Just Voices — even if the Iowa legislature won’t act to ban it.

Ten months later, the question remains: After the flames, the tear gas, the outrage, is this country more concerned with punishing the protesters of police brutality, than the actual police officers who abuse both their power and Blacks?

No justice, no peace. Justice is an apt rallying cry, but will it be achieved in this case? A better word for what the officers deserve for killing Floyd so brutally is retribution but nothing catchy rhymes with that.

When white people watch the video of Floyd trapped underneath Chauvin’s knee, I suspect they see only Floyd. But when I watch it, I see millions of Black souls down there with Floyd, struggling to breathe and dying under the burden and disgrace of systemic racism.

After the deaths of my parents, I had to work to regain a sense of joie de vivre. With Floyd, there is only grief — no joy to be had, nor justice — I fear.

Derek Chauvin on Trial: What Black Iowans Think Will Happen

Black Iowans shared their thoughts about the upcoming trial of infamous ex-cop, Derek Chauvin and the possibility of #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd.

Antwonette Shade, Founder, The Union of Black America

Shade: "I don't mean to be a pessimist, but If history is any indicator anyone expecting justice for George Floyd is in for heartbreak. The truth is there is no incentive for change in this country. I don't expect the outcome here to be any different from Latasha Harlins, Rodney King, Trayvon Martin and so many others. The Black community is likely to endure yet another slap in the face, and I am sure that we will continue to do so until we stop turning the other cheek."

Matè Farrakhan Muhammad, Field Operations Director, the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement

Muhammad: “I believe that the results of the trial will be that the institution of policing will be put on full public display. I expect massive protests and blanket violence from the police globally as the response. I do not expect the courts of America's broken 'injustice' system to deliver anything resembling justice for George Floyd. However, I do believe that the court of public opinion is equally, if not more important. The trial will be a monumental moment for activists and organizers to make their case for a new system and better world. Indeed it is our duty to fight; it is our duty to win.”

Calvetta Williams, Founder and Director, Mothers Against Violence

Williams: “I pray for justice as well as accountability, but to be honest there is a part of me that thinks it's not going to happen. We all know and have seen how so many Black men and Black women are being killed by officers and getting away with it. They are able to go home to their families — even on paid leave. We do not see justice being served no matter how many recordings and witnesses there are. I want to believe that the officers will be prosecuted to the full extent. I want to believe in our judicial system, but I feel it won’t be so cut and dry and once again we will not see justice being served.”

Leaders from Waterloo, Cedar Falls Ask Gov. Kim Reynolds to Veto Bills That are ‘Miles Away from Iowa Nice’

State lawmakers, local officials and leaders from Waterloo-Cedar Falls sent a letter to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Monday asking her to veto bills that would limit early voting and stop diversity training in schools and colleges, HF590 and SF478.

Mayors from Cedar Falls and Waterloo and chairs of the Cedar Falls Human Rights Commission and Waterloo Commission on Human Rights signed the letter, which was also endorsed by six state lawmakers, an antiracism coalition, the Blackhawk County NAACP and three religious organizations. Read the letter here.

“This bill, that limits early voting opportunities and punishes county auditors for their efforts to encourage voting, is a stumbling block to progress,” the letter states, of HF590. “It is also an unusual response to record voter turnout which is to be encouraged, not limited.”

The letter states SF 478 “seeks to put a stop to diversity training in our schools and colleges. We must point out the irony. The effort to do away with this kind of training is very clear evidence we need more diversity trainings.”

They lauded the defeat of a controversial bill to prevent schools from using the 1619 Project by “Waterloo’s own” Pulitzer Prize Winner Nikole Hannah-Jones.

“We do not support legislation that looks and feels like book banning, especially book banning in the name of free speech,” the letter stated.

Virtual Rally for William ‘Cory’ Scott

The Union of Black America will hold a virtual rally at 2 p.m. on March 13, via Facebook. A coalition of Black activists wants Gov. Kim Reynolds to commute Scott’s life sentence. More than 3,700 people have signed a petition for Scott’s release. The Black Hawk County man was sentenced to life under the controversial felony murder rule. Read the story here.

2020 COVID-19 Memorial 🕊

An event remembering those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, at the Iowa Capitol’s west terrace. The event, hosted by eight organizations, will also be livestreamed. Face masks are required, along with social distancing.

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