Univ. releases statement on verdict in State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin

April 23, 2021

Derek Chauvin, a former Minnesota police officer, was found guilty of all three charges against him on April 20, according to a New York Times article. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for killing George Floyd in May 2020. 

“Today’s verdict in the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin is a step in the right direction, but we still have work to do to achieve the ideals of a just and equitable society,” wrote President Ron Liebowitz in an email sent out to the Brandeis community on April 20. 

Liebowitz noted the trauma which Black students, faculty and staff have endured over the past weeks due to the trial and jury deliberation. “I know that we have all felt deep sorrow and distress as the events surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death were recounted,” wrote Liebowitz. 

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, along with Brandeis community partners, hosted an event on April 20 to provide a space for community members affected by this trauma. The event would host three breakout rooms for healing, witnessing and conversation, according to Liebowtiz. 

“We have rightly focused on action during the past year, but we must now also direct our energies to support healing and self care,” wrote Liebowitz.

Floyd was murdered in police custody on May 25, 2020 after being held down by four Minneapolis police officers, according to a New York Times article. A video of the incident circulated on social media of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes and 15 seconds. Liebowitz described it as “cruel, inhumane and contemptible,” in an email sent to the community in June 2020. All four police officers were fired the following day, according to the article

Floyd’s death brought a nationwide movement to end police violence against Black Americans, according to a New York Times article. In June and July of 2020, multiple Black Lives Matter protests were held in cities and towns across the United States calling for an end to police brutality. Floyd’s death was not an isolated incident; It is a part of a greater trend seen in the United States, according to a New York Times article. This has caused a push for campaigns for police reform and defunding of the police. 

“I am grateful to be part of an intensely caring community, and one that is moved to learning, activism, and change,” wrote Liebowtiz.

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