The North Star has dropped its paywall during this COVID-19 crisis so that pertinent information and analysis is available to everyone during this time. This is only possible because of the generous support of our members. We rely on these funds to pay our staff to continue to provide high-quality content. If you are able to support, we invite you to do so here.
When demanding justice for victims of police brutality, I often ask myself what justice actually looks like.
What is justice for Breonna Taylor?
For Ahmaud Arbery?
For George Floyd?
What is justice for a person who has been killed? What is justice for their families? Sabrina Fulton lost something that can never be returned to her. Her 17-year-old son Trayvon Martin was murdered and there is no jury verdict or jail sentence or state compensation that will bring him back. Since nothing can undo the gross harm that has been done, what does justice mean to them?
These are questions that do not have one clear answer, but they must be asked.
When dealing with something as sensitive and gut-wrenching as the taken life of a child, it is easy to think of justice as being “an eye for an eye.” A life for a life.
I am outraged so often, it is easy for me to think this way as well. But I have spoken with grieving mothers, heartbroken fathers and distraught siblings. Many of these families are not interested in that.
They just want their loved ones back.
I want to be clear, there is power in legal justice, in police officers and bigots being held accountable for the vicious crimes they commit on a daily basis. There is peace and healing to be found in knowing that the person who brought about such harm will face consequences, and will never be able to bring harm again.
There is progress in this, but the scales of justice will never be balanced.
We fight for these families to receive financial compensation, so it is one less thing they have to worry about as they grieve. We demand the perpetrators of these brutal crimes face consequences to ensure they never do it again. We protest for the Black and Brown children of the future so they can live in a world where their names never have to be hashtags.
It will never be enough. None of us can give these families what they actually want. But we fight so they know that the world cares about them and those they’ve lost.
In today’s episode, Shaun unpacks and explains the true definition of the word justice, and the steps we must take to move towards achieving it.