Local activists are celebrating with the rest of the African diaspora, the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial for the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
Just after 5 pm yesterday, Judge Peter Cahill read out the jury’s verdict finding Chauvin guilty of all three charges—second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The verdict sent African-Americans and those supporting the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement dancing in the streets, while some held on and cried tears of joy.
In T&T, cultural advocate Abeo Jackson told Guardian Media she believed the diaspora felt some measure of ease but noted the work had only just begun.
“I think an entire diaspora is not necessarily breathing a sigh of relief because there is still something about this that rings kind of hollow because of the fact that there are still so many who have not received justice,” said Jackson.
She noted the journey of the trial was a difficult one.
“The tenterhooks that we’ve been sitting on for the past few weeks with this case has just been like a reliving of the horror, a reliving of the nine and a half minutes and a whole lot of gaslighting of people trying to tell you what you saw was not what you saw. And where it almost felt as though it were George Floyd on trial, as opposed to Derek Chauvin,” she said.
Jackson, who organised the solidarity action on June 5th 2020, opposite the US Embassy in Port-of-Spain, in solidarity with global BLM after the killing of Floyd, said it was a diasporic unity that resulted in Chauvin’s guilty verdict yesterday.
“That is now the game changer when we are talking about activism against anti-blackness across the diaspora. It is the recognising of these links and the recognising of the power and the unity. They say an injustice against one is an injustice against all,” said Jackson.
FLASHBACK – Activist Abeo Jackson, lending support to the Black Lives Matter movement in a peaceful demonstration opposite the US Embassy in Port of Spain, on 5th June 2020.
As a sixth generation Merikin (American runaway slaves) descendent in T&T, Jackson said it made yesterday’s victory even more important.
“So when you see these very, very real links, being a Merikin descendent and then seeing this happening decades after the fact and realising in a lot of ways that not many things had changed. The systems were still in place to oppress and erase and vilify and feeling in a lot of ways helpless, that’s when I decided the most I could do is go and sit down opposite the embassy,” Jackson revealed.
But she was not alone in her action.
“You realised a lot of people around the world in terms of the African diaspora who started showing that solidarity and I think that’s what made the difference this time around, because there was an international light being shone on this case. We all saw what happened.”
She believes with an entire diaspora watching, the pressure was heavy and possibly forced the US to at least appear to get it right this time.
However, Jackson reiterated, it was imperative people understood this “victory” was just the beginning in the US. But with regards to the colonial footprint in countries like T&T, she said there remain colonial issues and systemic injustices to deal with.
“Even though we don’t have a minority-majority situation per se in terms of black and white, we still have our own dynamics that are directly inherited from colonialism that we need to deal with in our systems.”
George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt for nearly nine minutes on his neck.
The killing, recorded live by bystanders, sparked outrage and nationwide daily protests calling for the end of police violence against black citizens in the United States.