J-Town group reacts to Chauvin’s conviction

Japantown For Justice, a group founded in 2020 that “demand(s) justice and liberation for Black people,” issued a statement May 5 on the April 13 jury’s conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter for the murder of George Floyd.

Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes, despite Floyd saying repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd was Black.

According to the statement, the group’s members “felt a momentary sense of relief,” which “represents the violent truth of our ‘justice’ system — that even in such a public murder, there  would still be a chance the murderer would be acquitted.”

The statement also cited the “brutal murder of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant by Columbus police after she called them for help.

“Therefore, the conviction of Chauvin does not satisfy our calls for justice. In a just world,  George Floyd would be alive today, safe with his family and loved ones. Ma’Khia Bryant would be living out the fullest of her childhood.”

The statement also cited other Bay Area residents who it said had been murdered by officers from various police departments.

“In writing this statement, we are devastated we cannot properly honor all of the lives that have been lost at the hands of the police. This is the violence that is policing. We believe another world is possible, because what we have now is unacceptable.

“We refuse to allow Chauvin’s conviction to placate us, to lead us to believe that the justice  system is working for the people. Rather, we join the call of communities across the country  demanding the abolition of police and prisons to build a world where we are all free.

“Policing was developed in the U.S. through ‘slave patrols.’ Even after emancipation, the U.S. enacted laws, known as Jim Crow laws, that sought to arbitrarily police and imprison Black  people as a continuation of mass enslavement. Scholars, activists, and impacted community  members have been studying this history of policing and developing a framework for an abolitionist future. So rather than replicate it here in this statement, we urge you learn more  (some resources but not at all an exhaustive list)”:

• “Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California” by Ruth Wilson Gilmore

• “Are Prisons Obsolete?” by Angela Y. Davis

• “We Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice” by Mariame Kaba

• “Abolish Policing” (http://criticalresistance.org/abolish-policing/) by Critical Resistance

• “Why Japanese Americans Should Join the Fight for Abolition” (https://densho.org/why-japanese-americans-should-join-the-fight-for-abolition/) by Sara Onitsuka

The organization went on to ask the community “to support local actions for these victims of  police brutality”: Mario Gonzalez, Roger Allen, Angelo Quinto, Sean Monterrosa, Steven Taylor, Oscar Grant, Kayla Moore and Mario Woods.

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