116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief this week at the end of the trial over the George Floyd’s murder.
Floyd was killed last year by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, which led to mass racial justice protests and demands for police reform. A Minnesota jury this week found Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter charges. It gives some closure to Floyd’s family and millions of Americans who have anxiously watched the proceedings.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, wrote on Twitter: “Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. … But it does not end here. We still have work to do!”
Eastern Iowans this week got closure on a different police violence incident.
Jerime Mitchell will receive an $8 million settlement in his case accusing Cedar Rapids police of misconduct after he was shot and paralyzed during a 2016 traffic stop. The deal worked out by the city’s insurance provider is subject to City Council approval.
Like in the Floyd case, this resolution must not be the end of the discussion. The new police accountability movement formed in the aftermath of Floyd’s death is just getting started.
Mitchell was stopped by Cedar Rapids police for a malfunctioning light. Mitchell can be seen in a dashcam video resisting when the officer tried to handcuff him. The officer eventually fired three shots into the vehicle to stop Mitchell from fleeing.
It all started over a broken light. That and other traffic stops gone bad have to make us consider whether routine traffic enforcement is a good use of police resources.
Cedar Rapids officials, who were prepared to defend the officers’ actions in court, admit no wrongdoing in the settlement. They said in a statement that the case has been “divisive to our community.”
What’s really divisive to our community is the widespread perception, especially in racially diverse neighborhoods, that police officers are hostile and unaccountable.
The city is taking some measured steps to promote trust in law enforcement, including a forthcoming citizen review board of police. That’s laudable but there is much hard work yet to be done.
Chauvin sitting in a prison cell and Mitchell receiving a multimillion-dollar settlement may be justice served, but justice still is being denied to too many others.
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