VERDICT OR VICTORY?

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. It was the proverbial shot heard around the world. The word ricocheted from city to village to hamlet and from country to continent. In years to come, people will be able to recall exactly where they were when the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin murder and manslaughter trial were read out loud by the judge, the defendant showing little or no emotion.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers sworn to protect and serve our communities captivated all classes of people. It gave impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement, as thousands thronged the streets of major American cities last summer in protest. When the guilty verdicts were read, people applauded and danced in the streets.

On every hand and by every measure, the verdict was rare. While some saw it as a victory, others have chosen to view it as just what it is, one verdict. The justice system worked this time, thanks in large part to the engagement of concerned onlookers, including an alert teenager who shot videos of ex-officer Chauvin pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed George Floyd on the ground for over nine minutes. The graphic video triggered intense disgust and profound horror worldwide.

The United States president stated that the verdict, while significant, won’t be enough to stem the tide of police misconduct in the nation. Acknowledging that the struggle for racial justice is far from over, others hope that the verdict will come to represent the start of a new phase in America’s tortuous march toward justice.

In a sense, the trial of Derek Chauvin transcended the events that took place outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis last Memorial Day. The American legal system and its ability to deliver justice to all people regardless of race or ethnicity was on trial. Americans and people worldwide paid close attention to the case, waiting to see if justice would be served this time, and a collective gasp was emitted when the judge read the guilty verdict, and Chauvin was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

In the midst of the Chauvin trial, an unarmed young black man was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a mere ten miles from Minneapolis. Around the time Chauvin was being convicted in a Minneapolis courtroom, a black teenage girl was shot to death by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. The teen was brandishing a knife and refused to heed the police officer’s call to drop the weapon. Calls for the cessation of killings like these two and that of Floyd continue to reverberate around the country, as are appeals that police reform and sensible gun control legislation be enacted and implemented.

Ours is a broken world of deeply flawed people. We long for heaven. “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders” (Isa. 60:18, KJV). “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away . . . And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21:1, 5, KJV).

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Shabbat Shalom!

Clifford Jones

President


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