Kim Belshé | First 5 LA Executive Director

April 21, 2021

It took 9 minutes and 29 seconds for George Floyd to die under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020. It took a Minnesota jury of 12 11 hours over two days to deliberate and reach their verdict in the trial against Mr. Chauvin who pleaded not guilty.

Yesterday, Mr. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of the man who 27 times repeated… “I can’t breathe.”

Mr. Floyd’s death sparked a breaking point in the continuously mounting number of deaths of Black people by the hands of officers in America. One that resulted in protests across the country and around the world where voices cried out that Black Lives Matter, too.

An angst and sense of dread has hovered over the nation since the murder of Mr. Floyd and throughout the 17-day trial prompting some of our nation’s largest cities – including Los Angeles – to prepare for possible civil unrest regardless of what the verdict might be.

Unfortunately, angst, dread and preparing for injustice are all too familiar.

Individually and collectively, we grieve. We grieve for the individuals. We grieve for George Floyd. We grieve for Daunte Wright. And Breonna Taylor.  And…and…and…. We grieve.

And, individually and collectively, we mobilize, recognizing these needless deaths are the product of systemic issues, namely structural racism.

Yesterday’s verdict reminds us that to change structural racism, we have to change structures. And that requires systemic, societal change.

Viewed as a generations-old systemic problem in our nation that demands fundamental change in relations between police and the Black community, the road to enduring, systemic change is long. But it is a growing and shared voice across races, cultures and communities that will build the unity greatly needed.

The pain that our nation has known is real and doesn’t stop with one verdict. First 5 LA remains ever vigilant in its work every day to build a future where our children and the generations that follow will only know inequity as a historical fact. Justice found a starting point through yesterday’s verdict. Making us all, First 5 LA, parents, communities, and partners like-minded in our mission and vision for the future of children in L.A. County, critical to its continuance.

The persistent presence of structural racism proves over and over that systemic inequities have consequences. Every act of hate and racism destroys opportunities for children to develop and grow. Adverse events seen in the news can be troubling or traumatic – for both parents and their young children. Here is some additional guidance for parents and caregivers to help kids process these events:

Our shared commitment to the rights of every human calls on us to persistently press on in the pursuit of a just, equitable and safe Los Angeles. Yesterday’s decision points toward the hope we each must bring to this commitment every day.