To the Case Western Reserve Community:
Nearly 11 months after the world watched George Floyd take his last breaths under Derek Chauvin’s knee, a jury today will begin to consider the former Minneapolis police officer’s fate.
For many, the size and intensity of the protests that followed Floyd’s death felt like a turning point—finally, the country could no longer look away from the horrors that Black people and other underrepresented minorities face from law enforcement.
Confederate flags and statues came down, CEOs emphasized their commitment to diversity, and lawmakers at all levels introduced dramatic police reforms—and in some cases, significant funding cuts.
And yet, just this weekend, protests of two other officers’ fatal shootings filled streets in Chicago and Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb. Video footage released Thursday showed that seventh grader Adam Toledo had just tossed his gun and raised his hands when a Chicago officer pulled the trigger March 29 (the day Chauvin’s trial began). Meanwhile, video shown to reporters Monday appears to indicate that the Brooklyn Center officer who shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright Sunday had meant to draw her taser instead of her gun.
No matter what verdict the jury may render in Chauvin’s case, the work of anti-racism—in law enforcement and society more broadly—has barely begun.
Today, we write to re-emphasize Case Western Reserve’s core values of diversity and inclusion. We are committed to increasing our numbers of underrepresented faculty, staff and students; to ensuring that everyone on this campus feels welcomed and valued; and to pursuing research that helps identify and address inequities in our community—and around the world.
We also want to acknowledge the import of this moment—politically, socially, and yes, psychologically. For our students, counseling services stands ready to listen and provide support. For our faculty and staff, support from Impact Solutions is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As we learn of additional programs and resources, we will share those with the campus community as well.
Finally, as the deliberations phase of Chauvin’s trial begins, we want to remind you of examples of progress. Some states—among them Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania—have enacted significant police reform laws; others, including Ohio, have bills pending. Cities and police departments have issued their own measures, among them bans on chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and tear gas. Our challenge now is to redouble our individual and institutional commitments to continue this critical work—and continue to engage and support one another throughout the process.
Ben Vinson III
Provost and Executive Vice President