We all watched in horror as Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of George Floyd for over nine minutes, killing him. In those nine minutes, Floyd said he couldn’t breathe, cried out in pain and most heartbreaking of all, he called for his mother. This single incident united us. Not only were many of us united in grief, frustration, and anger; we were united in our dedication to addressing issues of race and bias towards communities of color by the Police Departments of this nation. This verdict is an important victory and the PAC honors the life of George Floyd in this monumental moment.

Currently, the relationship between many Police Departments and the communities they serve is frayed. Years of poor communication, apathy, over-policing, and racism have taken their toll. However, the first step to reconciliation is acknowledging this rift and making a sincere commitment to move forward together.

The residents of Philadelphia have an expectation that reform will include more than updated policies and directives on paper. Policing has been symbolized by a “blue wall” of silence, covering and protection, but the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin showed that this wall is not impenetrable. The law enforcement professionals who testified against Chauvin’s excessive and deadly force will provide an example for many officers to come.

In the wake of police reforms across the country following the murder of George Floyd, the residents of Philadelphia approved the creation of the new Civilian Police Oversight Commission to bring unprecedented oversight to the Philadelphia Police Department. Legislation to authorize this Commission will soon be voted on by City Council. We are now in a critical moment for City residents to tell City leadership what police accountability means to them and how this Commission can best serve them.

PAC’s next community meeting will take place on May 17, 2021 at 6:00 pm via Zoom. We welcome all residents with an interest in policing to join us to share their thoughts on the verdict and how we can move forward together in a new era of police accountability in Philadelphia.

Please contact the PAC at pac@phila.gov or 215-685-0891 with questions.