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Accountability and the Path to Justice

Yesterday’s guilty verdict in the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin was unprecedented. While many things contribute to verdicts in criminal cases, it is inescapable that the nation has been shaken by the brutality of this heinous act, and forever changed by the pervasive calls for justice and racial equity in the streets, and the corridors of power; and the quieter, private conversations that we have each day with those in our circle. People taking action and speaking out — that has made the difference.

The wave of anti-racist organizing and protest that built after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in plain view of neighborhood residents and captured on video, continues to this day. The outrage sparked an emotional outpouring that has grown, persisted, and developed in ways that continue to evolve.

Mr. Floyd’s younger brother Philonise said, “We ought to always understand that we have to march. We will have to do this for life. We have to protest, because it seems like this is a never-ending cycle.” One of Mr. Floyd’s cousins Tera Brown said, “We can’t bring him back, but we can save lives. And we want the actual reform that’s going to not only give us the change we want but make sure not another family has to suffer what we’ve suffered.”

Everyone, everywhere, has a role to play. At REDF we have redoubled our commitment to take actions that uplift racial equity and oppose systemic racism. Most of the employment social enterprises we partner with are employing and providing services to people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. When horrors like this occur in the communities they serve the ripple effects are enormous. These organizations deserve our support now more than ever.

The country will progress farther faster when we take responsibility as individuals, and when the organizations and institutions we belong to push for change. We will continue to do all we can to obliterate the shame of racism and prejudice. Change can happen and it does when people unite, fight for justice, and maintain humanity and respect.

To honor activists who have been tireless and courageous, and to honor the memory of those like Mr. Floyd and Daunte Wright, Ma’Khia Bryant, and Breonna Taylor, who have lost their lives and should not have, we move onward to create real, lasting, positive change. Together, we can and will make a difference.

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