Moving forward after the Derek Chauvin trial

Dear Patriots,

The verdict is in on the Derek Chauvin trial, and he has been held accountable for the injustice that occurred to George Floyd. We can breathe a collective sigh of relief that jurors reached the verdict they did.  With that being said, the nation must sustain its quest for systemic change to its criminal justice system, to ultimately make such episodes exceedingly rare. This verdict is not a replacement for systemic change.  Rather, it makes space for us to move ahead. We still have much work to do in this regard.

This verdict was about more than an individual trial, and it will provoke reactions across many ideologies. It is important to note the humanitarian aspect of what was on trial.  While we were not in-person eyewitnesses to the event that took place on May 25, 2020, there were many people of all races and ethnicities who were at the scene and provided commentary that something was wrong. The outcome of this case mirrored the sentiment of the individuals present at the scene.

As a university community, we are committed to all points of view. Our adage of Freedom and Learning is a powerful thing in moments like this, and I encourage everyone to exercise their First Amendment rights to free expression responsibly.  Speech that brings harm, violence, or destruction of property is not appropriate and we have an obligation to ensure our community remains a safe place to live, study, and express ourselves.

Some members of our community may find themselves in need of help processing the events of the day. We have services that exist to help, including the Employee Assistance Program, Counseling And Psychological Services, and the Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment. If you feel that engaging any of these services will help, I encourage you to seek them out.

As a community, we must be sustained by those things that united us so we are not divided by our disagreements.  For it is only through thoughtful, tolerant and respectful discourse that we can develop solutions that strengthen and progress our humanity.

Gregory Washington

Posted in Global and Multicultural Competence, Official University Communications, Racial Justice.