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Race is on trial in Chauvin case. And whatever the jury decides won't be enough.

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It’s not just Derek Chauvin on trial in Minneapolis; it’s our nation’s values around race too. Can we provide any semblance of justice to Black and brown people who face violence at the hands of police officers? Will a guilty verdict even make a difference? We already know the answer: Whatever the jury decides, it won’t be enough. The only thing that will make a difference is meaningful change to the status quo.

The good news is that there are real opportunities for action.

In 2018, with overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats (yes, really), Congress passed the First Step Act and reauthorized the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Act. These laws are limited, but they demonstrate a growing understanding that the current situation must change. 

Our policymakers have the backing of the American people. According to a poll from the Associated Press, there is near-universal support for changes to the criminal justice system: 29% support “a complete overhaul,” 40% support “major changes” and another 25% say it needs “minor changes.” 

People walk past a mural showing the face of George Floyd, an unarmed handcuffed Black man who died after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.

Incremental reforms to law enforcement may have tilled the ground for change. But the time has come to think far beyond the boundaries of the current criminal justice system to a deeper understanding of how it became so “broken,” as many people describe it, in the first place. 

COLUMN:The struggle to reopen George Floyd Square: ‘Injustice closed these streets; only justice should open them’

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