AOC explained why the Chauvin verdict on George Floyd's murder isn't justice

"Verdicts are not substitutes for policy change"

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to the media at the Houston Food Bank on February 20, 2021 in Houston, Texas. - The lawmakers address the weather disaster in Texas and helped distribute food at the food bank.
(Image credit: Getty/ THOMAS SHEA)

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  (AOC) shared a very frank and valid reaction to the verdict on Derek Chauvin's trial on Tuesday, shortly after the former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty on all accounts for the murder of George Floyd on 28 May 2020.

Going live on Instagram, AOC explained that the news brought a multitude of emotions for many of us. On one hand, she said it felt like "finally... something is happening", but on the other, it "did not feel like justice"—both of which felt accurate for all who took to the streets in Black Lives Matter protests last summer all over the world.

Speaking directly to her followers and the public, AOC expressed that verdicts are not substitutes for policy reform and that justice would mean George Floyd never being murdered by law enforcement at all. "This verdict is not justice," she said on Instagram Live. "Frankly, I don't even think we call it full accountability because there are multiple officers that were there. It wasn't just Derek Chauvin. And I also don't want this moment to be framed as this system working because it's not working, and that's what creates a lot of complexity in this moment."

She continued: "Justice is George Floyd going home tonight to be with his family. Justice is Adam Toledo getting tucked in by his mom tonight."

It took 330 days after George Floyd was killed to reach Chauvin's verdict, following an exhausting trial where the events of his death—a murder the world saw take place on camera over the course of the 9 minutes and 29 seconds Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck while he pleaded for his life—were revisited. Ultimately, a jury in Minnesota unanimously found him guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, reaching their decision in less than 11 hours of deliberation.  

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AOC shared her initial reaction to the verdict on Twitter, writing: "That a family had to lose a son, brother and father; that a teenage girl had to film and post a murder, that millions across the country had to organize and march just for George Floyd to be seen and valued is not justice. And this verdict is not a substitute for policy change."

Many other politicians, celebrities, and members of the public shared similar sentiments on the verdict in George Floyd's case and while it is a relief that the right verdict was reached, it is only one tiny step in the fight against systemic racism and police brutality. 

Sagal Mohammed

Sagal is a journalist, specialising in lifestyle, pop culture, fashion and beauty.  She has written for a number of publications including Vogue, Glamour, Stylist, Evening Standard, Bustle, You Magazine, Dazed and Wonderland to name a few.