Chauvin verdict was just but we have a long way to go

I just want to express my shock, surprise and relief about last week’s jury verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. We lived in Los Angeles when Rodney King was attacked and the police officers were exonerated. It was a devastating verdict, but engineered by our criminal justice system. Under the guise of being unable to find an unbiased jury within the crime jurisdiction they transferred the trial to Simi Valley. A predominantly white community, where, of course there was bias, but an acceptable bias. The subsequent riots were frightening as they expanded into many parts of the city. It was so ugly, every part of it was ugly. But the memory that stands out the most is Mr. King pleading “Can’t we all just get along?”

Now 30 years later, maybe, just maybe we have a beginning of examining our justice system, our police forces, our racist systems. I have some hope. But, recently in The Herald was the story of two young men committing crimes together (“One crime, two very different punishments for Everett teens,” The Herald, April 19). Both with no previous record. Their sentences were startlingly different, one is on probation for 10 years, but has been free for the last two years, even completing his college degree. The other sentenced to 7 years in prison and has been there most of the last two years.

The difference? One had access to a private attorney and money. The other could only use a public defense attorney. You guess which one is free. Two 19-year-olds, committing the same crime together, both with no previous record. Our failings are more than just racial, they are economical too. Equal justice is not a reality. As happy as I am with the verdict, we still have a long way to go.

But today I will enjoy basking in the hope that change may be on the horizon.

Ann Distefano


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