The Derek Chauvin Murder Verdict and Chicago’s Torture Justice Memorial
Singlespeedfahrer / Wikimedia Commons
Today, the jury delivered a verdict in the high-profile Derek Chauvin murder trial. Although Chauvin is found guilty, some argue that he is used as an example to show that murderous cops are outliers instead of an intricate part of an abusive system. Moreover, there is a growing sentiment that sending cops to jail is not the justice we think it is. In June 2020, Mariame Kaba & Andrea J. Ritchie wrote for Essence: “As prison industrial complex (PIC) abolitionists, we want far more than what the system that killed Breonna Taylor can offer – because the system that killed her is not set up to provide justice for her family and loved ones.”
I find that I agree with the authors. Even though Derek Chauvin has been found guilty, that will not change the system. Jason Van Dyke was found guilty in 2018, and Adam Toledo was murdered by a Chicago Police Officer in 2021 – three years after that verdict was delivered. The authors argue that there have to be better strategies around finding justice.
“We want to direct our energies toward collective strategies that are more likely to be successful in delivering healing and transformation, and to prevent future harms. Families and communities deserve more than heartbreak over and over again each time the system declines to hold itself accountable,” they wrote.
While they contended that it was a difficult position to take, they also acknowledge that we must be consistent in our calls for justice; if we are calling for prison abolition, contributing to this same system contradicts the initial action. Instead, they emphasize a reparations-based approach to Justice for Breonna. They use Chicago as an example of a successful reparations campaign.
According to ProPublica, this was “the first municipal reparations package in the country to address police violence.” Approved by the City of Chicago in 2015, this package would include: “a formal apology from former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, financial compensation to survivors and their families, waived tuition to City Colleges, a mandatory Chicago Public Schools curriculum to educate students about police torture under Burge, and the creation of a permanent, public memorial.”
This package was promised to survivors of Jon Burge, a disgraced former police commander who was accused of torturing 125 mostly Black suspects over the course of about 20 years. Burge, who is dead now, denied these allegations up until his death in 2018. Now, activists, artists, and community members are calling for the inception of the public memorial promised in the reparations package.
Some suggested that Mayor Lori Lightfoot see to it that the memorial be installed in her first 100 days, but that did not happen. Six years after the promise was made, the project is still seeking funding, according to Block Club Chicago. So, even with a reparations-based approach, there is still an onus to hold those in power accountable to honoring the reparations they promised. ~ℝ
Javanna Plummer, Rwebel in Chief
Javanna is the editor of "Rwebel Magazine," the architect behind "Rwebel Radio," and the pioneering force of "Xscape." Through her words, Javanna hopes to inspire creativity, passion and forward-thinking