April 20, 2021 at 5:33 p.m.

In Response to the Chauvin Trial Verdict

Content warning: This email contains references that may be upsetting or triggering, particularly to Black members of our community.

Dear CSSW Community,

While we welcome the guilty verdict on all three counts (2nd degree murder, 3rd degree murder, and manslaughter), we recognize that this does not bring true justice for George Floyd or his family. Hope for justice in this case was extinguished when Mr. Floyd lost his life. If there is any hope, it is that this verdict will be a unifying force for continuing the fight for justice – efforts that the social work community has long embraced and cannot turn away from despite the enormous challenges ahead.

Nearly a year ago, we watched in abject horror and deep anguish as the video of the murder of George Floyd was shared around the world. This event was not unique or new; yet it had a reverberating effect across countries, cultures, and time zones. It generated an enormous global response, which sparked mass protests calling for justice and police accountability. The Black Lives Matter movement took center stage in new ways, decrying state and vigilante violence inflicted on Black communities and communities of color, and calling for justice. But the killings, harassment, and violence against Black folx by law enforcement has continued.

What does justice look like? If the world were just, George Floyd would be alive. Daunte Wright would be alive. Breonna Taylor would be alive – as well as so many others. And state and vigilante violence against Black people, Indigenous people, other People of Color – and all who suffer oppression in our society – would not exist. So this verdict on its own could never establish justice, but it has the potential to signal a reckoning that has been too long in coming.

A determination of guilt for the crime of murder seemed so obvious. But we also know that on far too many occasions, what seems “obvious” does not coincide with the outcome.

While you process the verdict, please remember that our school has a number of resources for those who are experiencing distress during this difficult time, which you’ll find below.

As we honor the memory of George Floyd, let us do our best to hold one another’s pain at this moment, to support one another, and to find ways to heal and replenish our reserves for the work ahead.

In community,

Melissa Begg

Dean & Professor

Karma Lowe

Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Community Engagement