It felt like some sort of twisted New Year's countdown. The breath the world was collectively holding all weekend was about to be set free, let loose. She was on her daddy’s shoulders, craning her neck to see the speakers, to try and understand just a little bit more.
Everybody is stir crazy, at least that’s what dad said. I’m still not completely sure what that means. I feel nervous and everyone else looks nervous, so maybe that’s what he meant. I give dad a big kiss on the head. He tilts his head to smile at me, but I can tell he’s stressed.
It’s loud here. A lot of people. I don’t think I’ve seen this many people since we marched. I like marching with everyone, saying the chants.
I want Black men to stay alive. Everyone does… right?
If the police officer gets to go home, I will be scared. I think maybe our town will burn again. I don’t want to see fire, it’s hot and scary and it moves fast. Everyone keeps saying “justice.” I don’t know what that means, but it feels right. I think it means the bad man should go to jail. Well, that’s what I want. But I’m only five, I don’t get to choose.
I just do what’s right, where I am.
There are newspaper people here. I see them talking to people. To my aunties and my dad’s friends. To strangers, to each other. All of their words are blending together, I can’t focus on just one thing here.
All of a sudden, somebody cries out. I jump, a shiver tickling my spine. Before I knew what was happening, people began cheering like we were at some sort of sporting event. My eyes scan the crowd, taking in the shouts and the hugging that began. I feel myself being pulled from his shoulders into a big hug. I lay my head on his shoulders because I love hugs. I wrap my arms around his neck, feeling safe and happy.
I think he is going to jail.
I think I will sleep tonight.
Maybe this is what justice looks like. I have never seen this before. Daddy is crying but it’s okay. My house won’t get burned down again. I like this moment, I want to live here for a while. I think George is in heaven, smiling. He probably wants to live here, too. I wish he was still here.
This verdict is okay; I think we will be okay.
Abha Karnick is a south Minneapolis resident with East Indian roots who graduated from Hamline University in 2019. Her passion lies in storytelling and finding moments to capture.