Yesterday’s murder conviction marks an extremely rare moment of accountability in a history of killings by police too often unrecorded, unacknowledged, unpunished. It’s a moment of cautious exhalation, relief, and some celebration. It’s also a reminder of how much work there is to do. Let us know how you’re processing it. Is there a recharge for you? Is it a clear inflection point or an isolated respite from violence so entrenched and expected that the verdict feels overshadowed by the untold number of charges never brought? Let us know:
One recharge, if you’re looking for it, is a reminder from history: “Tyranny hates memory,” as the essayist Tom Christensen wrote in his book River of Ink: Literature, History, Art, a mapping of civilizations. He’s writing not about policing in the United States but about the role of memory in resisting tyranny that thrives on the obliteration of memory. And he’s connecting the dots between memorials to books and memorials to lives, between democracy and organizing, each attacked with impunity by the powerful parties of state, god, police, or all three throughout history.
Tyranny hates memory, he writes, because oppression flourishes when it can crush its first disinfectant, which is witnessing. But memory, witnessing, documenting—each is preservable. Each is a recharge. Let us know how you’re feeling after the verdict of Derek Chauvin.