Hau Mitakuye Oyasin (Greetings Relatives),
With the conviction of Derek Chauvin a palpable wave of relief swept over our agency and our community. For the moment, many of the sources of stress that have plagued our spirits for nearly a year have been diminished.
First, there’s relief that we have avoided a return to dramatic civil unrest whereby violence could – and most likely would – have occurred in our neighborhoods, where our clients, students, staff and their children could have been in danger simply by just being in their own homes. For now, this threat has abated. In a city that has been rocked with unprecedented levels of violence over the past year, and in a community that endeavors to survive despite tragic generational economic and educational disparities, the relief generated by evading more civil unrest cannot be overstated. We all are grateful to see a sunrise on a Minneapolis that is quiet, except for the daily noises of regular life. We all are thankful for this reprieve. Yet history tells us that this could be fleeting…
The relief felt at our agency and in our community also was based on the recognition that in this moment in time and in this particular case, a measure of accountability for law enforcement finally was achieved. We also recognize the unique circumstances that this conviction represents: when an officer callously murders a person of color in broad daylight, recorded by multiple cameras, and in front of several witnesses who begged him to stop, the officer can be convicted for his crime. However, we hold no illusions as to what transpired on April 20, 2021. Derek Chauvin’s conviction is not justice.
What then does justice look like?
Justice would see to it that all police officers who have murdered Black, Brown and Indigenous people are brought to trial and convicted for their crimes with the same frequency that our nation views these ongoing acts of heinous brutality captured by cell phones and eyewitnesses.
Justice would provide for a world where community policing and law enforcement are solidly predicated on protecting and serving the very communities that police officers live in, to be guided at direction of the people themselves.
Justice would be to forever eliminate the grotesque mindset of some in law enforcement that they are “soldiers of fortune,” cowboys who interpret their jobs as that of a militarized invading force descending upon a community within which they do not live, harassing people with the tip of their gun barrels whom they do not know.
Justice would see all citizens able to survive traffic stops, and not lose their lives over broken taillights, expired license tabs, or air fresheners hanging from rearview mirrors.
Justice would be the elimination of a military mindset so pervasive in police departments across this land. It would instead be replaced with a concept of local heroes known to the community who courageously step forward to protect our neighborhoods so that our people can live without fear, that all people’s freedoms are ensured and protected as sacred articles, and that the law is applied to all people in equal measure.
Justice would see an end to the allowance of the use of lethal force by police officers in general.
Justice would allow for George Floyd to still be alive and in the arms of his loving family today.
While the American Indian OIC is relieved that this most recent period of tribulation has passed by like ominous storm clouds in the spring, we remain vigilant. We continue to observe and to guard against the next miscarriage of duty by law enforcement in our community. We are hopeful in efforts now underway to remedy the chronic brutality found in so many police.
The American Indian OIC believes that Black Lives Matter.
The American Indian OIC believes that Brown and Indigenous lives matter.
The American Indian OIC believes that by working together, our society will be able to build a new, more just world for all our relatives.
Finally, the American Indian OIC believes that this work has only just begun…
Dr. Joe Hobot
President & CEO
American Indian OIC