Last year, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, a Black man, by kneeling on his neck for nine and a half minutes. This murder was inexcusable, and part of a systemic pattern of police violence that disproportionately affects Black people and other people of color in the United States, particularly Black people with disabilities.
Today, a jury ruled that George Floyd’s killer was guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughter — all of the charges that had been brought against him. We are relieved to see these convictions, but they represent only the smallest measure of accountability for George Floyd’s murder and the overwhelming threat of police violence in our country. We have much further to go. Justice cannot be reached with one verdict — we must work toward justice by transforming our society to end the ongoing crisis of anti-Black police violence that presents a daily threat to so many of our community members.
Today, our Black disabled community members are still in pain — and in danger. Despite the overwhelming evidence against Floyd’s murderer, due to a long history of failure to hold police accountable for racist violence, it was impossible to trust that his murderer would be found guilty. While we receive the news of Chauvin’s conviction, the community is still grieving the losses of Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright, two more disabled people of color murdered by police in recent weeks. Police violence presents an ongoing threat to our communities, and today’s verdict, though welcome, will not end that threat. To truly address the crisis of police violence, we must pursue systemic solutions.
We must reckon with the racist roots of policing in our country, which are still evident today. We must work to defund police departments and invest in approaches to community safety that provide alternatives to the police and the criminal legal system, including access to community-based crisis services and other community initiatives that reduce interactions with police. We must hold police accountable for murders, assault, harassment and intimidation, including by ending qualified immunity, which prevents victims of police violence from holding police accountable in court. We must demilitarize police departments and use community oversight to make police accountable to the communities in which they operate. This is work that all of us need to devote ourselves to in order to create a safer, more just world. Disability organizations must follow the leadership of disabled people of color, stop putting forward police training as a solution to police violence, and get serious about taking away the power of police to do harm.
ASAN remains heartbroken and outraged by the effects of police violence on our Black community members — the lives lost, families left grieving, and the trauma that violent and racist policing continues to inflict every day. Today’s verdict cannot return George Floyd’s life to him. We are committed to continuing the fight for a world that is safe and just — for all of us.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy equal access, rights, and opportunities. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us!