By Genoa Barrow | Observer Senior Staff Writer
Before the Derek Chauvin trial began in Minnesota three weeks ago, local pastor Dr. Tecoy Porter traveled back to his home state to help pray over George Floyd’s family.
Dr. Porter, who leads Genesis Baptist Church and the Sacramento Chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, also prayed with Floyd’s loved ones last year, having helped plan funerals for the 46-year-old father in both Minneapolis and Houston.
“This is what the family was praying for, this right here, guilty of all charges,” Dr. Porter said.
“We prayed for them because we knew that it was going to be a rough trial and they were going to villainize George Floyd for being imperfect, for being human.”
The family, and much of Minnesota, were carrying a heavy burden, Dr. Porter said.
“I’m glad that they can breathe. I think that Minnesota, the Twin Cities, and I know for a fact from being there recently, that they felt like their knee was on their necks for over a year and I think this is true around the country that with this verdict, finally we can all breathe a bit, that that knee has been lifted off our necks so that we can breathe in this moment.”
White police officers aren’t often convicted of killing people, especially Black people, in this county. According to Bowling Green State University’s Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database, only five non-federal law enforcement officers were convicted of murder in an on-duty shooting in the last 15 years who had not had their convictions later overturned.
While one verdict doesn’t solve America’s deep seeded issues, its historic nature isn’t lost on Dr. Porter.
“This was our Emmett Till,” he said.
Till was just 14 when he was kidnapped and horrifically murdered in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a White woman in a country grocery store. His killers, who flaunted their horrendous act, were found not guilty by an all-White jury.
“What that was for the generation of our grandparents, George Floyd is to us now,” Dr. Porter continued. “During the pandemic, you could not peel your eyes away from this. You could not deny what you were seeing, even though the defense tried to tell us that our eyes were lying to us. Today we saw that our eyes don’t lie. What we saw was a ‘lynching by knee,’” Dr. Porter said.
The guilty verdict, he says, must be followed up by federal legislation and points to HR 7120, the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act, that Rev. Sharpton and others are urging Congress to pass.
Dr. Porter is running for California State Senate, looking to take Dr. Richard Pan’s Senate District 6 seat in the next election. In the hours before the Chauvin jury quickly ended its deliberations, Dr. Porter was standing with members of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) on the West Steps of State Capitol, offering an opening prayer before the group spoke on the bills it has introduced to get to “the root” of the problem.
Dr. Porter hopes to join the CLBC as an official member in 2022 and have an impact on some of the bills focused on police reform, training, transparency and accountability.
“Being in these United States, we find out we’re not as united as we need to be,” the area pastor declared.
“We have 52 ways of policing on a statewide level so you need that federal law to help create a standard for state law to rise up to.”
While Dr. Porter calls Tuesday’s verdict a “win” and a “major milestone,” it’s not the end of the fight, he says.
“We cannot overlook the fact that a Stephon Clark didn’t get justice, a Breonna Taylor didn’t get justice and the list goes on. We can’t overlook the fact that we have a Daunte Wright now that just occurred 10 miles away from this case,” he said.
Black lives can’t continue to be devalued as they have been, Dr. Porter said.
“The prosecution, they did so well, but they had to over perform and isn’t that symbolic of our lives as Black people where we have to overperform just to get to fairness or get to equality? We have to be the best of the best, so that we won’t be the worst, just to get our fair share.
“I have to give it to the prosecution; Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Attorney General, he put a great team together and they did the job. Now we need to attack the system and make sure that there’s reform in the system so that this won’t happen again.”