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Local reaction to Derek Chauvin guilty verdict

Derek Chauvin
Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 18:07:06-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all charges in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

The local reaction in Indiana to the verdict was palpable almost immediately after it was read Tuesday afternoon.

Here's what they said:

State Senator Eddie Melton, D-Gary:

The murder of George Floyd was a shameful tragedy that the entire world witnessed. Many of us were left heartbroken in the days, weeks, and months following Mr. Floyd’s death because video evidence made it clear that it was unreasonable to use lethal force, and in the process, we lost another Black American way too soon. Thankfully, the jury reached the right decision and justice will be served. It is my hope now that a proper sentence is given that fits the crime committed and our entire country can use this case to transform the relationship and trust between people of color and the police.

While the trial against Derek Chauvin was put on spotlight this month, it does not address or solve the ongoing injustices and problems too many Black men face on a daily occurrence across Indiana. Black men like myself in cities like Gary and Indianapolis are still to this day subjected to a culture where police misconduct against the Black community is never-ending and is on every screen and media space. We are simply unable to remove ourselves from a system that was never created to treat us fairly or justly. Police brutality against Black Hoosiers has always been prevalent in American culture, it’s just that the introduction of body cameras and smartphones finally exposed injustices in real time to millions across the country.

The death of George Floyd finally prompted an intense debate in big cities, small towns, and in suburbs across Indiana, and many Hoosiers joined the rest of the nation in a call to address a systemic problem we face as a nation. The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus responded to this demand for accountability by working in a bipartisan manner to deliver House Bill 1006 this legislative session. Among several things, this new law bans chokeholds in most circumstances, invests in de-escalation training, and penalizes law enforcement for misusing body cameras during work hours. I am happy we were able to leave this session knowing we got this important legislation on the books, but House Bill 1006 only scratches the surface and there’s still more work to do to address sentencing, prison, and other criminal justice reforms that are needed to bring full equity in our state.

As long as I share a platform and an opportunity to do so, the Senate Democratic Caucus and I will work tirelessly to bridge this gap and put an end to the injustices too many Black Hoosiers have faced throughout our lives. But in order to make this lasting chance, accountability for law enforcement and state elected leaders must be at the forefront of this discussion. Systemic racism will only end in Indiana if leaders present a transparent process and solution to the public and lawmakers hold themselves to a higher standard that matches the values of our country, not the current political landscape. And lastly, I pray for the family of George Floyd and hope they received the closure they deserve.

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns:

Dear Colleagues:

This afternoon, the jury rendered a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer. Based upon the compelling evidence presented by the prosecutors, the jury concluded that Chauvin was guilty of all charges, including second-degree murder, in the killing of George Floyd.

I recognize that, over the past few weeks, many members of our University community have been anxious about the outcome of this trial. I also appreciate that, in many respects, this verdict is historic, particularly with respect to issues of policing and criminal justice in the United States. Time will tell whether this verdict will contribute to meaningful change in our country.

More personally, I cannot fully comprehend the impact that this trial and this verdict has had on many people, particularly members of our African American community. But I do know that Mr. Floyd’s murder, and other more recent events, continue to evoke feelings of anguish, fear, and frustration. Those feelings are genuine, and our students and our colleagues deserve our empathy and our support.

In that respect, our University provides resources that help members of our campus community process their response to these events. I encourage you to use, and to share, the following resources if you or someone else in our community needs assistance:

Students can seek mental health services by contacting our Counseling Center, which offers same day or next day virtual appointments. Students of color can also register to attend the upcoming April 22 virtual meeting of VOICES, our University’s bi-weekly race and ethnic support group.Faculty and staff can take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program, which offers a network of services, including free counseling sessions and other self-help tools. I have also asked my colleagues in the Office of Inclusive Excellence to coordinate with my colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs to provide some additional resources, possibly including virtual events for faculty, staff, and students to continue to discuss the outcome of this criminal trial. I anticipate that, in the days and weeks to come, some members of our campus community may want to express their continuing demands for racial and social justice. Every member of our University community has the right of freedom of expression. But it is my expectation—indeed my fervent hope—that everyone will express their strongly held views peacefully. In that respect, let us follow the courageous lead of our students who organized a massive, yet peaceful march last June in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death. No one can predict the ways in which the outcome of this trial will affect our country. But I do know that, at our University, no matter the national divisions, we will continue to strive—to work together—to create a more inclusive culture on our campus and in our community. In doing so, we continue to live the enduring values articulated in our Beneficence Pledge. And we honor our commitment to provide everyone—all of our faculty, staff, students, and guests—with a safe and welcoming place to learn and to teach.

University of Notre Dame Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.:

We welcome the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd. The appalling cruelty depicted in the video of Mr. Floyd’s death along with the terrible legacy of the treatment of Black men and women in police custody led many to hope for a reckoning in this case, and we believe justice was done. May this verdict be a first step on a road to police reform and a renewed battle against racism and bigotry anywhere and in any form.

We pray for the eternal rest of George Floyd, and for his family and loved ones. We pray too for all police officers, the vast majority of whom serve the public professionally and compassionately.