If Not Justice, at least Accountability

It was nearly a year ago that the world was stunned into anger as we watched Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneel on the neck of unarmed and subdued George Floyd for over nine minutes until Floyd lay dead in the street. This took place as onlookers pleaded for Chauvin to provide Floyd relief from the apparent strangulation while Chauvin’s fellow officers did nothing to intervene.

The anger at George Floyd’s death at the hands of police was the culmination of not only two other recent deaths – Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor – but that of all unarmed blacks that were unjustly killed by white Americans. It was symbolic of hundreds of years of brutalization of black bodies at the hands of white supremacists. References were made to the murder of 14 year old Emmet Till in 1955 by white supremacists who were never held accountable.

Just as the Till murder was a catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement, the death of George Floyd was followed by continuing cries of Black Lives Matter, Justice and Equality. It resounded globally and in numerous spheres of influence such as professional sports and corporate America.

Yesterday, the world witnessed the accountability that we hoped for when a diverse jury found Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts. Yes, accountability if not justice. The verdict will not give Floyd back his life, it will not return a brother to a brother or a father to a daughter. As we know ultimate justice is preserved for Allah who judges with perfect knowledge. He Who is Al-Adl, the Embodiment of Justice.

As our brother, the Attorney General of Minnesota, Keith Ellison said in his press conference yesterday after the verdict, “I would not call today’s verdict “justice”, however, because justice implies true restoration. But it is accountability, which is the first step towards justice.”

We should be reminded these verdicts of guilty were the result of Attorney General Ellison taking this case away from the County Attorney who appeared to be mishandling the case.

We thank Allah subhana wa ta Ala for putting our brother Ellison in the position to seek justice in this case that captured global attention; for Islam is about seeking justice. We ask Allah to fill our hearts with a desire to seek justice in all circumstances whether it is #BlackLivesMatter, #StopAsianHate or any other form of injustice. Ameen

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