Derek Chauvin Trial Verdict: On Celebration and Grief
Yesterday afternoon, a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of George Floyd’s murder. We feel both hope and hesitation, celebration and grief. A White police officer was found guilty of murdering a Black man. This is a rare moment of justice for Black Americans. Time after time, authorities have refused to charge White police officers for killing Black victims. Even when charges have been brought, courts have often found in favor of White police officers and against the humanity of their Black victims.
In this new moment, we see the manifestation of a goal that often seems elusive: culture change. We stand in this moment on the work of present-day activists and educators—especially those who are Black and Brown—and hundreds of years of activists and educators before them. Their work made this a reality. Yesterday, a jury recognized the humanity of George Floyd.
At the same time, our hearts are heavy for Mr. Floyd and his loved ones. No verdict can bring him back—the man who told his friend as a teenager, “I want to touch the world,” a father, friend, and partner.
This verdict also doesn’t wipe away systemic racism. As we said in our initial statement after Mr. Floyd was killed, his death was not an aberration. It is a representation of the truth we are living in.
Our work must continue so culture change continues. Let this moment of justice plant a seed that will blossom across our country and our world. But let us remember that seeds don’t grow without love, attention and dedicated resources. We must re-commit ourselves to actively nurture it and dismantle systems of racism and oppression.