Responding to the Derek Chauvin verdict

Letters to the Community
April 20, 2021

Dear students, staff and faculty,

As many of us know, Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all three charges in the death of George Floyd, including the most serious charge, second degree murder. Justice has been served. Some among us feel relief, others see this as a step forward, and still others view this as just a small beginning toward racial justice. One thing is certain -- George Floyd’s life mattered.

Since the beginning of testimony in the trial, more than three people a day died at the hands of law enforcement; of that number, more than half were Black and Brown people. We mourn two of the latest victims, Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo. 

We have been moved by the powerful and poignant words of Suzanne Rivera, president of Macalester College, and G. Gabrielle Starr, president of Pomona College, in a recent essay in Inside Higher Education

Black, Indigenous and other people of color on our campuses are tired. Tired of grief. Tired of trauma. Tired of explaining and performing our grief and trauma for people who previously were unaware of or unbothered by racism, social inequality and violence. We know the brutality of racism has never gone to sleep, even though some people seem to have just awoken to its reality. This history has been staring us in the face for a long time and, while some of us are unable to ignore it, we in America’s colleges can teach how to open eyes and ears.

Tonight, let us gather together in community to acknowledge the significance and magnitude of what this trial has represented and the work that lies ahead. We invite you to a Zoom gathering led by Matilda Cantwell to be held 9 - 9:30 pm tonight. 

For students who may need support, we encourage you to reach out to the Schacht Center for Health and Wellness at any time; Dean Baishakhi Taylor also encourages students to contact her directly. For staff and faculty, resources include the Employee Assistance Program and the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning.

Grounded in full realization of our historic and current racial injustices, we invite you to join us in activating critical hope for a more just future. Together, we will continue our work to open eyes and ears in our community and beyond.

In solidarity,

Kathleen McCartney

Floyd Cheung
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion