During a press conference following the announcement of the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made some truly appalling comments about George Floyd’s murder.
“Thank you, George Floyd,” Pelosi said, “for sacrificing your life for justice.”
She continued: “For being there to call out to your mom—how heartbreaking was that?—to call out for your mom, ‘I can’t breathe.’ But because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world, who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous [with justice].”
It’s undeniably chilling to hear the speaker of the house refer to the murder of a Black man as a “sacrifice,” but it’s certainly not surprising. After all, Democratic politicians have long treated the murders of Black people as important only in their potential as political catalysts. In life we are not seen as fully human, so even in death we are not allowed humanity, innocence, or grace. Instead, Black people murdered by the state are often turned into symbols or even memes, while the politicians who claim to represent our constituencies invoke names in service of reformist agendas, which ultimately funnel more money into police departments and the carceral system.
The shallowness of the support from the political establishment becomes apparent as soon as a Black person dares to assert that perhaps the entire system is fucked—that nothing remotely resembling justice that can be found without abolishing the entire institution of policing. Establishment Democrats have literally scoffed at the idea that anyone might actually want to defund the police, choosing to ignore the coherent political reasoning behind these demands, instead characterizing them as far-fetched and absurd.
It is disrespectful to call this (or any) verdict justice when George Floyd is dead. For a Black person killed by cops, there is no such thing as justice—injustice is inherent in the circumstances that led to their murder. There is no accountability either: Chauvin’s incarceration will simply allow the same system that killed George Floyd to justify its continued existence. Despite attempts to pretend that putting police officers in prison prevents them from causing more harm, it’s no secret that cops get preferential treatment in jail.
On Tuesday afternoon, as a country of people stared at their televisions and computers waiting to hear the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, a person was shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed, a relative told Yahoo News on Tuesday evening that the victim was a 15-year-old Black girl named Makiyah Bryant. The same relative said that Bryant, her niece, had initially called the police herself because she was being abused by someone in her home.
There is no justice to be found in this system.