Shortly after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took time to address the "complex emotions" the verdict has drummed up. In an Instagram Live video filmed in front of the Capitol building, the New York representative broke down how Chauvin's conviction serves as just one small step in the necessary overhaul America's policing and criminal justice systems must undergo.
AOC began by echoing a similar sentiment that fellow congresswoman and Squad member Cori Bush proclaimed in a speech following the Feb. 20 verdict, explaining how she believes justice has ultimately not been served yet. "This isn't justice," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Justice is George Floyd going home tonight to be with his family. Justice is Adam Toledo getting tucked in by his mom tonight. Justice is when you're pulled over, there not being a gun as part of that interaction because you have a headlight out. Justice is your school system not having or being part of a school-to-prison pipeline. Justice is a municipality and a government that does not value military and armaments more than it values healthcare and education and housing."
She added that she's hesitant to call the conviction a matter of "full accountability" because there were several other police officers — namely, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane — who were at the scene of Floyd's fatal arrest and have yet to be convicted of aiding and abetting in his murder. "It wasn't just Derek Chauvin," she reminded viewers.
"Verdicts are not a replacement for policy change."
The Democratic representative went on to explain how Chauvin's conviction doesn't mean the criminal justice system is "working" as it should be, and many new policies are still needed to create change from the ground up. "I also don't want this moment to be framed as this system working because it's not working," she said. "The fact that we were all glued to our television sets because we saw a murder in front of all of our eyes, and yet we didn't know if there would be a guilty verdict, it tells you everything . . . Verdicts are not a replacement for policy change. A jury doing its job in its system is not a replacement for us doing our job in that system," she said, pointing to the Capitol.
She added that said policy change goes beyond just passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which aims to crack down on holding law enforcement officials accountable for misconduct and nix discriminatory policing practices. "This is not about cameras and retraining and choke holds. This is about changing how we structure our society and the valuing of Black life," she said, later noting that Chauvin's conviction should be seen as a pivotal "moment" rather than a "resolution." "This doesn't end until we address the massive, systemic, institutional racism in the United States that accepts our Black brothers and sisters, our brown brothers and sisters, our native brothers and sisters as less than human."
"It's time to keep going. We have to keep going."
Ocasio-Cortez concluded her Instagram Live video with a rousing call to action for those viewing. "Keep pushing and keep fighting because we cannot just think that a verdict is gonna happen and act like that's going to protect us and everybody else in this country," she said. "We can't be placated with that. This is the most basic shred . . . It's time to keep going. We have to keep going."