Joy Reid cannot help her cynicism toward charges against law enforcement officials. On April 20, the MSNBC correspondent and host of The ReidOut appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to discuss Derek Chauvin being found guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd earlier that day. "This needed to go this way in order for society to be able to take a step forward," Reid said. When it came time to announce the jury's decision, Reid explained that the "very quick return of a verdict" had her hopeful, but she "didn't dare assume that was going to be the outcome."
"I'm very, very cynical about charges against police," Reid said, reminding viewers about the statistics of police officers being convicted of murder. Her feelings date back to 1999 with the shooting of Amadou Diallo, an immigrant shot by four New York City police officers, who were all acquitted of the charges one year later. "Go all the way through . . . Tamir Rice, who was a 12-year-old child playing with a toy gun. Police officer jumps out, shoots him immediately. No charges. I tend to go with the statistics that show about 2 percent of police officers are ever convicted of killing someone, let alone killing somebody Black."
She continued, "When a police officer is charged, I steel myself for them to not be charged. And then if they're charged, I steel myself emotionally for them to be acquitted, because that's normally what happens." It's a terrifying truth that reveals the long history of systematic racism in our county, but Reid acknowledged how the unanimity of the verdict was absolutely necessary to continue the fight to change those statistics.
"For this family, they have achieved something almost revolutionary."
When Fallon asked Reid about the feeling that there's been justice for George Floyd's family, she recognized the gravity of this case. "Think about how rare it is for a police officer to be convicted of killing a Black man, woman, or child in America," Reid said. "For this family, they have achieved something almost revolutionary. They have not only been able to get justice for themselves, which isn't going to ease their pain, but they've achieved justice that is going to radiate potentially throughout our system . . . We've established a line that was drawn by police. A line that was drawn in the criminal justice system, that you just can't kill a man in front of witnesses, including a 9-year-old, on video camera and walk away from it."
Reid closed her statements by noting that while we don't know what kind of sentence Chauvin is going to get, the juxtaposition of emotions regarding the verdict is real. "He [Chauvin] shamed himself and he's lost his freedom. There's nothing to celebrate. But I think that for the family it's a relief. I think just for a moment we can acknowledge that that is a relief. It isn't anything to be joyful about."