More than a century ago, a minister by the name of Francis Bellamy authored the original Pledge of Allegiance and, with it, the words “justice for all.” Bellamy hoped the Pledge, and that phrase in particular, would help unite a nation still struggling in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Today, our country’s racial strife endures. Continuing acts of violence against people of color are a stain on the very fabric of America and show how far we still have to go to achieve justice for all. Or even to define it.
In Minneapolis, a jury has found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. The attorney for Mr. Floyd’s family labeled the verdict “painfully earned justice” even as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office led the prosecution, declined to call the finding justice “because justice implies true restoration.”
“But,” said Ellison, “it is accountability.”
The actions taken against Mr. Floyd, the actions that took his life, are criminal and deserving of the maximum sentence under law. That they were taken by those sworn to uphold the law make this case even more intolerable. But we are reminded that even as the jury rendered its verdict, the family of Daunte Wright, another Black man who was killed by police, was still spilling fresh tears as they mourned their own unspeakable loss just a few miles away.
Until we treat all people with the same basic levels of dignity and equality, “justice for all” will remain beyond our reach. Justice for one does not expunge the historic injustices inflicted upon so many others. SCA does, however, share the hope that this conviction is one important step toward accountability and the full realization of the ideals upon which this nation was founded.