Remembering George Floyd: The Work Ahead Of Us

On the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, family members, community members, and advocates are coming together to honor his life. The video of Floyd’s murder shared a year ago amplified and reignited calls for justice, and change, while demanding this nation bring an end to centuries of police violence.

Laws were introduced, police training reforms proposed, and some police officers were fired and charged. Yet, the work that remains cannot be ignored. From trial dates, to pursuing investigations, and calling for policy reform, the workload ahead of us remains heavy.

Here’s a look at what lays ahead as Black Americans forge for justice, equity, and access. 

Upcoming Trials

In April, the world watched as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges in George Floyd's murder. These are upcoming trials to be in the know.

Trial of Three Former Officers Charged in Floyd's Murder

Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Kueng are all charged with aiding and abetting a murder. Their trial date was pushed to March 2022. The three former cops, along with Chauvin, are facing federal civil rights violation charges, too.

Trial of Three Men Charged In Killing of Ahmaud Arbery

Three Georgia men, Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William Bryan are scheduled to stand trial October 18 of this year for the slaying of 23-year-old Ahmaud Arbery last year. The men face murder and false imprisonment charges after they chased down and shot Arbery who was out jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood. The men suspected Arbery had burglarized a vacant home.

Trial of Former Officer Charged In Breonna Taylor Killing

Of the officers involved in the botched raid that left Breonna Taylor dead, one is facing charges. Brett Hankison is scheduled to stand trial next February. The original trial date had been set for August of this year, but a judge pushed Hankison's trial date back due to a backlog of cases stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Taylor, who was 26 at the time of her death, was sleeping when officer shot into her apartment, fatally wounding her. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, who was with her at the time, filed a lawsuit against the Lousiville Police Department in connection with the raid.

Trial of Kyle Rittenhouse

Kyle Rittenhouse, the accused gunman charged with killing two people and wounding another during an August protest is set to stand trial in November. Rittenhouse reportedly traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin where protests erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Jr.

Ongoing Investigations and Lawsuits to Monitor

Over the last year, we've seen body camera footage and called the names of people who've died in police custody or at the hands of law enforcement. Some of the cases happened years ago and renewed interest has amplified calls for justice. Here are a few investigations that remain open and lawsuits that have been brought against police officers and cities across the US.

Federal Probes Into Police Departments

US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced last month that the US DOJ would be investigating the police departments in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Louisville, Kentucky following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Activists in Columbus, Ohio have called for a federal investigation as several high profile shootings have occurred in Columbus including: Andre Hill, Casey Goodson, Jr. and Ma'Khia Bryant. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014.

Federal Lawsuit filed by the Family of Andrew Brown, Jr.

The family of Andrew Brown, Jr. filed a federal civil rights violation lawsuit this month after the district attorney of Elizabeth City, North Carolina announced no criminal charges would be brought against the officers involved. Brown's family has yet to be allowed to see the entire body camera footage of their loved one's killing.

Investigation of Ronald Greene's Death

Ronald Greene died in May 2019 after a gruesome encounter with Louisiana police. Body camera footage was obtained by The Associated Press this month, renewing calls for transparency and timeliness in the investigation of his death. Greene's family says they were told by law enforcement officials that Greene died in a car accident following a high speed chase. The footage shows officers beating, tasing, and dragging him for more than nine minutes.

Investigation of Mikayla Miller's Death

Mikayla Miller was a high school student in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Investigators there say the teen, who openly identified with the LGBTQ community, died by suicide in April. Her mother and community advocates dispute the investigation's findings, citing evidence of a belt reportedly found at the scene of where Mikayla's body was found in a wooded area near her home that did not belong to her or her mother.

Legal Action To Be Taken by Family of Ma'Khia Bryant

The family of Ma'Khia Bryant is reportedly considering taking legal action following her shooting death by police in Columbus, Ohio. The teen was in foster care at the time of killing. A family member told outlets they believe the foster care system failed Ma'Khia, stating, "Someone has to be held accountable," Ma'Khia's cousin, Deja Torrence told Insider. "The family just doesn't want this to be another senseless killing that goes under the rug and gets overlooked."

Policy Changes for Social Justice

A number of legislative proposals have been made as the nation reckons with its racist history and the lasting impact on Black people living in America. Here's a few of the policy changes and calls for justice currently being raised.

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

The Act was passed in the House earlier this year, but has struggled to gain support in the Senate. With the Act, chokeholds and no-knock warrants would be banned. The Act would also end qualified immunity for police officers.

Critical Race Theory Bans

Around the country, lawmakers in state legislative bodies have argued to ban the teaching of racism and critical race theory in classrooms. Some conservatives argue that teaching about the nation's past would unfairly skew children's view about their country. Many have specifically called out The 1619 Project created by award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Combating New Election Restrictions

Following November's election, hundreds of Republican-sponsored bills entered the floors of state legislatures. Georgia, Florida, and Texas all passed legislation that advocates say makes voting harder for Black voters and low-income voters by limiting the use of absentee ballot use. Passing out food and water to voters waiting in line is at least a misdemeanor in some states where these laws have passed. Voting rights advocates are gearing up for the midterm election, helping voters get access to the ballot in spite of these newly imposed laws.

Renewed Calls to End the Death Penalty

Several people were executed at federal corrections facilities towards the end of Donald Trump's presidency, marking a resurgence in capitol punishment after a decades-long hiatus. Given the disproportionate amount of Black people who are on death row, calls to end the death penalty were amplified during the government's rush to execute people. Recent reports of people, particularly Black men, who've been found innocent after imprisonment has also supported a slow down in state-sanctioned killings.

Increasing Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

As new coronavirus cases decline, and many institutions seek to reopen, access to vaccines for Black Americans is high priority. Data indicate that Black people are lagging behind in vaccination rates, due in part to a lack of access. Churches and community organizations have been tapped by officials to help bring the vaccine closer to Black communities in order to provide protection for those at highest risk.

Get Involved

The work ahead of us is vast, wide-reaching, and will require action on the part of individuals and the collective whole. Community activists and advocacy groups across the country and around the world have worked nonstop to raise names, cases, and laws that have been ignored by institutions and governments. 

To get involved, check out what action is being taken in your city, county, and state. Follow state leaders and keep up with local elections, protests, and community events that can have an impact right where you are.

In your involvement, too, be sure to fill your own cup. Check out these resources to support your mental health and well-being in whatever action you choose to be involved in.

Photos: Getty Images

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