The end of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was met with cheers, jubilation, and celebration as racial injustice activists and other figures claimed it was a moment of vindication. Chauvin was found guilty on the following charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. It is unclear if Chauvin will appeal the verdict.
Chauvin was the police officer filmed with a knee on the neck of George Floyd, a black male, during an incident in the summer of 2020. Floyd later died, although Chauvin’s defense lawyer claimed that it was due to a mix of opioids in Floyd’s system and not the disarmament tactic Chauvin employed. The state prosecution said that Chauvin’s use of force led to Floyd’s death, to which the jury agreed.
Higher education figures praised the verdict and said more work needs to be done to root out racial injustice.
The University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center executive director, Shaun Harper, told Inside Higher Ed, “You can’t just celebrate what one would deem justice in this particular situation when there is no justice for the Black woman in the political science department with her very racist department chair.” Harper added that he is optimistic about racial equity in higher education and that it is up to everyone involved to recognize “systemic racism” within their institutions. He said that it was “long-overdue” for higher education to have race-related discussions.
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University chancellor, Harold Martin Sr., said in a statement, “We cannot give in to hopelessness or the idea that such dynamics cannot be changed.” He added, “We must be about transformative solutions and seizing the opportunity to change the world.” Martin’s university is one of the largest historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s for short) in the country.
Joseph Castro, chancellor of the California State University system, said that CSU “can serve as that inflection point” for “healing, reconciliation and recovery” by “driving social mobility.”
Morgan State University president David Wilson said that the trial brought up bad memories from his students who “have experienced so many deaths of individuals who looked like them.” Wilson added that it is “painful” that “we can’t bring back the life of George Floyd.” Morgan State University is an HBCU located in Baltimore, Maryland.