The world stopped for a moment yesterday afternoon while we all waited for the verdict to come in.
My wife was in the school pick-up line, pinned to WFDD’s live coverage. I was in my barber’s parking lot, refreshing Twitter. My barber was texting me, telling me not to bother coming in until the Derek Chauvin verdict had dropped.
Even the president stopped what he was doing so he could catch the decision in real time.
Rebuffed by my barber, I drove to the office where I found Jordan Green monitoring a white-supremacist livestream as they discussed the murder of George Floyd, certain the white cop would prevail.
After being banned from mainstream communications apps like Twitter, YouTube and the like, after the implosion of Parler and whatever it is the pillow guy is doing, the most hardened white supremacists are using video-game streaming channels to communicate. This one here is the bottom of the barrel, the ones booted from Twitch for using the N-word, awaiting the verdict like everyone else.
Like we had done so many times before — election results, trials, procedural votes, autopsy reports, official announcements — Jordan and I waited around for the thing to happen with more than our usual uneasiness. Because no matter the preponderance of evidence, no matter the testimony, no matter the clear decision between right and wrong, we had both seen such things go sideways before. Most of the results we’d awaited together had not gravitated towards the light — so many opportunities to do the right thing squandered.
We both knew that if the Chauvin verdict followed all historical precedent, there would be no real consequences for the cop or the department in which he operated. Just like every other time, everywhere.
When it happened — guilty charges on all three felony counts — we felt the release that had been building up since Chauvin murdered Floyd in May 2020, since long before that, really, since just about forever.
And still: cynicism, hard earned.
One verdict is not change. One verdict does not correct a flawed system. One verdict is not justice, or accountability. One verdict like this one is an outlier, just waiting to be overturned.
Something different happened this time. And there’s hope in that for all of us.