To the Case Western Reserve Community:
Earlier this evening, a Minnesota jury made the truth official: On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd.
The jurors convicted the former Minneapolis police officer of all the charges he faced: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. Chauvin now faces up to 40 years in prison.
News of the verdicts brought tears and expressions of relief to crowds gathered outside the courthouse and at the corner where Floyd died. The pain of his death is no less for his loved ones, but tonight they see at least some measure of justice done.
The result was far from certain. Nearly three decades ago this month, a video of the beating that gave Rodney King brain damage could not keep a jury from acquitting four Los Angeles police officers of using excessive force. The city erupted, and five days later 50 people had been killed and 2,000 injured.
In that context, this evening’s outcome can be seen as a sign of progress. May it inspire and embolden us to act even more forcefully against racism and discrimination of all kinds: explicit, subtle, or even unconscious bias. What happened in Minneapolis last Memorial Day is part of much deeper ill, one that requires our unrelenting engagement to address.
At the same time, we must always remember the power of a single person to make a positive difference. Last May 25, it was a 17-year-old girl who stopped when she saw Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck. Darnella Frazier pulled out her phone and filmed the entire awful scene, then posted it on social media.
The video ignited nationwide protests, increased awareness, and played a pivotal role in this trial. We commend her courage—may her example inspire us all.
Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President