There was a lot of celebrating on Tuesday, as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who killed George Floyd almost a year ago, ended with him being found guilty on all counts. To many, it was a huge relief, especially considering how rare it is for juries to convict cops. But the feeling was bittersweet, for there’s also an innocent man who shall remain dead, and a rough road for those seeking long-lasting police reform.
Stephen Colbert opened that night’s The Late Show by addressing the verdict, but it was a somber affair, respecting the weight of what just happened, as well as what lies ahead. “After 10 hours of deliberation, a jury in Minneapolis decided that it’s illegal for the police to murder people — that Black lives matter,” Colbert said. He continued:
It’s hard to celebrate, because a man is still dead. But there is a sense of relief that at least this one injustice was not compounded with indifference. It could easily have gone the other way. No matter what you saw on that tape, this nation does not have a great track record on this subject. But at least in this case, this man faces accountability. But justice is a far more difficult goal. America still has a problem of over-policing and systemic racism, but hopefully this is a step toward a future where police being held accountable for their actions isn’t headline material, and a hope that accountability today is a deterrent tomorrow.
Colbert also acknowledged the Black Lives Matters protests that have been demonized by conservative commentators but, in their persistence and their force, helped keep the nation aware of issues that need addressing. “Today is one stop on a journey that began last May, and led to protests calling for that accountability in every town and every city in America,” he said. “But this is just one stop. There is more work to be done. And it’s work that all of us should be committed to, because, as Ben Crump, the Floyd family lawyer, reminded us today, “Justice for Black America is justice for all America.”
You can watch the full video above.