'Justice is George Floyd not being dead:' Members of Windsor-Essex BIPOC community reflect on verdict
'We still have to deal with the fact that people are still being brutalized right now'
While protesters in Minneapolis cheered Tuesday after a jury convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of all three counts in the death of George Floyd, the verdict brought mixed emotions for some members of the Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) community in Windsor-Essex.
For artist and community leader Teajai Travis, the outcome was expected. And while he wants to feel proud and excited, he said there's still a long way to go to achieve "true justice."
"I knew in my heart it was going to come 'guilty, guilty, guilty,'" he said. "To hear that justice is being served in this manner, it's a real show of the global solidarity that we've seen that got behind. A movement that says 'it's no longer OK to brutalize and to murder Black and Indigenous bodies.'"
"But at the same time, we still have to deal with the fact that people are still being brutalized right now. This is something that feels like justice, but true justice is real peace, understanding. Justice is all people's ability to walk down the streets of their communities and not have to fear making it home. Justice is George Floyd not being dead," he said.
Travis said it's a sweet day for those who fought hard to hold the former officer accountable and the local community should appreciate each other, especially those who protested and marched last year.
Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd after the former officer kneeled on his back and neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest last May.
The killing of Floyd sparked worldwide protests, including ones organized in the region, and a furious re-examination of racism and policing in the U.S..
Elise Harding-Davis, African-Canadian heritage consultant and historian, believes the verdict is a step in the right direction.
"I hope this will be a furtherance of a justice system that works for everyone," she said. "I've never seen anything so horrific in my life, but I'm so glad that the jury saw fit to take justice into their own hands and be honest and not be fearful of retribution, and find that man guilty."
"I hope that Derek Chauvin gets the longest time in jail so he can contemplate the ugliness that he portrayed and the suffering he committed on the world," she said.
While Harding-Davis said she hopes the verdict will lead to a push for a more representative police force in Windsor-Essex, law student Seher Ali is a proponent of the police abolition movement.
"There is no justice in a system that is fundamentally anti-Black and unjust, and a conviction is the baseline," she said. "Black communities deserve so much more than that, and to me, that includes the abolition of the anti-Black policing systems."
This is something that feels like justice, but true justice is real peace, understanding. Justice is all people's ability to walk down the streets of their communities and not have to fear making it home. Justice is George Floyd not being dead.- Teajai Travis, artist and community leader
Ali pointed out the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot last week by now-former Minnesota police officer, Kimberly Ann Potter, as an example of why people need to continue organizing and fighting for justice.
"Anti-Blackness is a global construct and white supremacy is a global construct. Anti-Black policing is very common here as well," she said.
"It's important to remember that work still needs to be done around these issues globally and there is a demand for radical Black organizing within Windsor," she said, adding that she would like to see more reading around police abolition in school.
"Specifically as a law student at [the University of Windsor Faculty of Law], I wish that there was more reading of writers like Angela Davis, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, reading about the Black Panthers, reading about the abolition movements, so that people can have a fleshed out understanding and apply these concepts to the experiences of Black students on our campus."
Travis agrees that more work needs to be done, reiterating "we have so far to go."
"The burnout is real, the trauma is real, the generational trauma is real, a system that has been built to privilege some at the oppression of others is real," he said.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.