Accountability, Not Justice: N.H. Activists, Residents React To Chauvin Guilty Verdict
Activists and residents in New Hampshire say they feel a sense of relief after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd Tuesday. But they say it’s not justice yet.
“This is exactly what should have happened,” Manchester’s chapter of Black Lives Matter posted on Instagram following the verdict. “As we take our breath of relief, let us remember that this victory does not equate to a fair and just system. This is not justice - it is accountability. Justice would mean that George Floyd would still be with us today.”
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Black Lives Matter Manchester (@blmanchesternh)
Floyd’s murder last year set off a wave of protests in New Hampshire and across the nation, focused on the many deaths of Black people at the hands of police. It led to calls for serious police reform in the state - something that activists say has yet to be achieved.
The New Hampshire Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said in a statement that “issues of racial inequality and oppressive policing persist in New Hampshire.”
“Many in New Hampshire believe that racism does not exist here. They are wrong,” the group wrote. “New Hampshire, as our local Black Lives Matter organizations have highlighted repeatedly, does not stand untainted.”
The association called on state leaders and the Legislature to move forward on several policies and bills, including requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras, ending "no knock" warrants and raids, implementing yearly implicit bias training, and collecting data on race, ethnicity and gender in every encounter -- and making that publicly available.
Many of those are the same recommendations made by Gov. Chris Sununu’s commission on police accountability and transparency last year. Sununu created the group in response to Floyd's murder, but only a handful of the group’s recommendations have been implemented.
As we prepare for the verdict in the Chauvin trial, NAMI NH reminds folks it's critically important to protect your mental health. It's okay to turn off your screens, to feel your feelings, to reach out for support. #YouAreNotAlone pic.twitter.com/XbPqTNiS7X— NAMI New Hampshire (@NAMI_NH) April 20, 2021
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Sununu said that he had supported charges being brought against Chauvin “from the beginning.”
“I am glad justice has prevailed,” he said. “George Floyd should be alive today, and while he will sadly never be able to return to his friends and family, we can appreciate that justice through our legal system has been delivered.”
Earlier this week Sununu was criticized by many leaders working on criminal justice reform in the state when he said on NHPR that he does not believe systemic racism exists in New Hampshire.
BLM leaders in the state organized a vigil on Saturday, in honor of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was killed by police in Minnesota earlier this month. At that event, they underscored their position that police reform is not enough to stop police violence, and said instead the focus should be on defunding and abolishing the police.
BLM Manchester reiterated that sentiment on Instagram today, following the Chauvin verdict.
“This cycle is going to continue until we come together and abolish the police,” the group wrote.