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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Statement regarding Chauvin trial and verdict

(Message sent to CLA students, staff, and faculty on April 20, 2021.)

Dear CLA community,

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed a few miles from campus. The killing was appalling and outrageous. It shocked the conscience of millions throughout our state, across the country, and around the world. Today, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of 2nd and 3rd degree murder and manslaughter in Mr. Floyd’s death.

The time in between has been a time of grief, of action, of anxiety and concern. It has underlined the stark inequities faced by Black and Indigenous communities and communities of color in Minnesota and across the country. And it has seen a powerful call for reform, not just surrounding matters of policing, but across all sectors of society.

Today’s verdict does not rectify inequities nor does it bring George Floyd back to his family and loved ones. But as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said shortly after the verdicts were announced, "It is accountability, which is the first step toward justice.” 

This past year has been a stressful time, especially for our students, faculty, and staff of color. And the wounds were reopened again just last week with the killing of Daunte Wright. It will take time to process all that has occurred, both as individuals and as a community. 

Please allow your circles, whether coworkers, colleagues, students, or fellow students, to do that processing in a way that is meaningful for them. For some, that may mean discussing their thoughts and feelings, sharing their difficulties and experiences. For others, it may mean quiet and reflective time to themselves. And if you, or anyone around you is struggling, I urge you to use the resources shared by President Gabel in her message earlier today.

CLA will continue the conversation on how we can become a more welcoming, more equitable place of work and study and take the actions to make that happen. And we will continue to discuss and analyze race, power, and justice through scholarship and instruction and engage with our community partners on these systemic issues. 

Be well, stay well, and please look out for yourselves and each other. 

John Coleman