Carolyn Riley-Payne, president of the Seattle King County NAACP, issued the following statement on today’s verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin:
“We are heartened to hear that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd – but we are not satisfied. This verdict shows that the thin blue line of police silence can be broken; that police officers have it within them to stand up and hold their fellow officers accountable; that prosecutors can muster the resources and evidence to secure a guilty verdict against police when they have the will do to so; and that juries are capable of seeing the truth, which is that Black and brown people in America continue to be killed by police for no other reason than the color of their skin.
But this is just one verdict, and it came only after a summer of nearly non-stop mass protest, with echoes of Mr. Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” filling streets from Seattle to Washington, D.C. It should not take a national movement to secure justice for a single Black man killed by a police officer. But it did, and it will.
Because we know that our work is not done, that Black and brown people continue to be targeted, assaulted and killed by police every day, and that they rarely see justice. We see it in our backyard, in King County, where Black and Indigenous people are killed at a vastly disproportionate rate. We live in an America where white people can storm the U.S. Capitol and go home safe and unarmed, while Black and brown people are effectively sentenced to death for counterfeit dollar bills and loose cigarettes.
It has to stop. We cannot accept the status quo. It is time to end policing in Seattle and King County as we know it and build a new system that honors Black and brown lives. As our community celebrates this rare victory tonight, we must channel our emotion into sustained action. We must fight to secure justice for other victims of police violence. We must remember those here in King County who have lost their lives at the hands of the police: Shaun Suhr, Charleena Lyles, Tommy Le, and too many others. We must strive for a day when holding police accountable is routine. We must not let this day be an anomaly.
And as we honor this moment, we must do so with respect for our community and each other. We must be ready to take action tomorrow.”