A small step toward justice for George Floyd's family, a larger call for structural change

By Abby Maxman
Protesters march at the March on Washington in Washington DC, August 28, 2020 Photo: Becky Davis/Oxfam

Almost a year ago, George Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer. Today, his family and community don’t get to hug him again, but they do get the conviction they asked for and one step closer to the justice they deserve.

Today’s verdict is vindication of what activists have long declared: that accountability for police violence is both necessary and possible. But this verdict is not the end of our fight for justice in this country. Now is the time to redouble our efforts and dig deeper to uproot systemic racism in all its forms and reimagine public safety that truly serves and protects Black and brown people.

Policing was not designed to keep Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian communities and poor people safe in the US. In fact, it is often the opposite: Of the 64 people killed in the hands of police just since the trial began, more than half have been Black and Latino.

Oxfam is built on the power of people, including the power of people to make systemic change. That’s why we support the Movement for Black Lives’ call to reimagine public safety so that it does not rest on policing, but on investments in community well-being and programming aimed at preventing and reducing harm.

The United States was forged through racism that still persists in our institutions today. In communities across the country, Black and brown people are still routinely killed and harassed by the police. Thus our work for structural change, including the fundamental rethinking of the role of policing in our society, does not end with the conviction of officer Chauvin.

As a rights-based organization, Oxfam works every day around the world and here in the US to end the injustice of poverty and uphold the fundamental human rights of marginalized people. From Afghanistan to South Sudan, we advocate for civilians to be protected from violence, including violence at the hands of police and other security forces. And we support human rights-based budgeting to ensure public safety budgets are driven by community needs and priorities. Everyone has the right to safety, security, and justice. Here in the United States, we have worked for more than 15 years with partners across the Deep South to challenge racial injustice.

With an important step toward justice in our hands and hearts today, we recognize that today’s verdict would not have been possible without the decades of organizing and mobilizing of Black-led organizations to undo the systemic racism, marginalization, and disenfranchisement that pervade the US. Indeed, we have so much work to do to uproot the systemic racism that results in the over-policing of Black and brown communities that led us to this moment today.

The hard work continues, and we will fight on.

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